From the Principal’s Office
2/5/2013 By: PJ Caposey
Evolution of Education
School reform has been taking place
continually in America since the
1950s. The movement has been slow,
but some things have changed—and
for the better. The current reform—
this era of education—is not as simple
as implementing a solution to address an issue.
This reform is about the evolution of American
The education evolution is about:
• Embracing technology
• Embracing the drastic changes in the real
world and being proactive in preparing
for the changes that will occur in the
• Embracing the concept of learnercentered
Are we prepared to enter into this evolution,
knowing that with such change will come
failures, delays, resistance, and risk? While this
is a momentous challenge, it is certainly not
Here are three quick to-do’s for both
administrators and teachers to spur this process
Move beyond the job description
This type of change is not listed in a job
description. It is mental, philosophical, and
takes place largely outside of the 8:00-3:30
timeframe. This work includes personal
professional development, re-designing lessons,
and continually growing.
For administrators: Be unafraid in asking
for that type of commitment from teachers,
but provide rationale and support through
the change process. Remember, if you are not
engaging in the same types of behaviors yourself
and extending beyond manager/instructional
leader, the effort to promote such thinking
amongst your colleagues will fall short.
For teachers: Be unafraid to stand out
amongst peers and lead this movement. No
school is designed for this type of change, so
no job description can encompass all that will
take place in the coming years. You must be the
change that we wish to see in our schools.
Model appropriate edtech behaviors
Technology will define much of the
transformation and evolution taking place in
schools. The movement toward technology is
not to teacher-proof classrooms, but to create
learner-centered environments that support
students learning in their preferred style.
For administrators: Become an active
member of a PLN, participate in #edchats,
and provide an abundance of professional
development in this area. To assume this change
will occur independent of opportunities being
provided for teachers is to make a critical error.
The only manner in which teachers, discomfort
can be eased is through exposure.
For teachers: Be actively involved in a PLN,
active on Twitter, and integrating technology
resources within your classrooms. Two powerful
actions to facilitate change in your building are
to create a personal S.M.A.R.T. goal regarding
technology for yourself, and to mentor one
colleague per quarter on technology use.
Both serve to continue personal professional
development while reaching out to colleagues
(passively and actively).
The best schools of 2017 will not be schools
trying to replicate what successful schools did
in 2012. They will be schools that are actively
preparing for 2022. The primary purpose of
schools must be to educate students, not to
preserve the history or traditions that no longer
exemplify or amplify the educational experience.
For administrators: Systematically, with
input from as many people as will share, create a
five- and ten-year plan for your school. Students,
teachers, parents, community members, and
other leaders will actively pursue something if
there is a purpose. Create the sense of urgency
and establish a sense of purpose in your building.
Remember, people only take risks when they feel
safe. You must create that environment.
For teachers: One class per week the
first semester and two per week the second
semester should have a 21st-century focus. This
means that they are learner-centered, involve
technology, and have outcomes that will serve
the ever-changing needs of our students.
Reform is no longer about applying solutions
to existing problems and deeming them fixed.
Education reform is now about the evolution of
schools and how educators must promote this
process in order to best prepare our students for
the future. We must be the change.
PJ Caposey is the principal of Oregon High
School in Oregon, IL and the author of Building a
Culture of Support. Read more at www.pjcaposey.com and on Twitter @PrincipalPC