10 Important Trends in Education to Expect in 2018
Educators, administrators, and those in higher education who are committed to ensuring quality experiences for students across the ages (and for new growth opportunities for themselves too) should be excited for the year ahead. There’s no question that 2018 will bring light to a variety of topics and issues that could monumentally affect the way we teach and the way students learn. Read on to learn about some of our predictions and trends in education that we’re seeing and anticipating, and be sure to follow the embedded links to explore the topics in more depth.
- Opportunities to develop programs for Career & Technical Education (CTE) and associated high-quality apprenticeships and best practices will emerge; e.g., health, automotive, and mechatronics programs. A bill passed by the House in 2017 focuses on improving CTE programming, recognizing that not all programs are equally well resourced or supported. The education field will need to carefully balance early career opportunities in these fields with program features that set students up for long-term success as fields evolve over time. For an interesting look at the tradeoffs in these areas, check out this article in The Atlantic.
- Opportunities for practicing teachers to participate in residency-based preparation programs for pre-service teachers will continue to grow, including the use of the gradual release model in teacher preparation clinical experiences. Residencies are commonly designed to support areas of high need (secondary math and science, special education) that result from extensive teacher turnover, particularly in major city school districts. The creative partnership between districts, graduate programs of education, and non-profits that fund stipends for the candidates can result in teachers who stay in the system for longer periods, providing students with increased learning opportunities from experienced teachers.
- Teachers and school leaders will see opportunities to become trained mentors and leaders in providing induction programs with mentoring and support through the early years of an educator’s career in both the teaching and school principal professions. Programs such as those offered through The New Teacher Center have been around for quite a while but renewed attention to issues of turnover and attrition in the field continue to focus efforts that support new teacher retention. Programs are available at the school, district, and state level that foster ongoing reflection and mentoring opportunities for early career teachers and administrators.
- Information on building the skills of paraprofessionals who work alongside teachers in classrooms will really develop. As paraprofessionals continue to work with some of the most marginalized populations in classrooms, building their skills and capacities for this work is crucial for ensuring quality educational experiences for all. Finding creative ways to embed professional development opportunities within and throughout the school day and year will continue to be a goal for districts around the country.
- Leveraging technology in education will be of paramount interest to teachers and educators; e.g., Flipgrid, a video discussion platform is being employed with young children in schools. It is amazing how quickly young children engage and embrace learning with the opportunity to incorporate technology into their practice. Tools that foster oral, audio, and written skills are of interest to young learners and allow them to express themselves beyond the capacity of their writing abilities. Much work with critical thinking can also be done in this manner when tools such as Seesaw blogs or flipgrid are used to support learning.
- Interest in information on trauma-informed practices will continue to increase across education as teachers and other education professionals seek resources for responding to traumatic events that affect children of all ages. Studies show that 25% of children under the age of 16 have experienced trauma in their lives. Children bring their lives with them to school, and schools and teachers are learning to adapt classroom management strategies, instructional supports, and school climate to support children who have experienced trauma to help them build their resilience over time.
- Educators will need to adopt more inclusive practices in education—practices designed to enable a child with a disability to be involved in, and make progress in, the general education curriculum. Inclusive education is not a new concept, but educators continue to progress in their knowledge about effective ways to support students with a wide range of needs in the least restrictive environment possible.
- There will be a continued focus on student achievement and its connection to school/teacher evaluation systems. States have designed and redesigned systems that look closely at teacher evaluation through the lens of student achievement on various assessments (some local, some state, some national). There are many thoughts on the validity of assessments as linked to teacher or school evaluation, and this is a conversation that will continue for a long time!
- Career pathways for teachers that build on exemplary classroom practice will be highlighted; e.g., mentoring skills, teacher leadership roles. Teaching is often considered a “flat career” because there are few steps forward in the profession outside of leaving the classroom for administrative positions. Because not all teachers are interested in those types of roles, teaching has slowly embraced some positions that are informal (like new teacher mentoring in some places) or formal (TOSAs—teachers on special assignment, instructional coaches) that create a new space for additional professional growth and development. These roles honor the capacities of teachers while building on their expertise to support curriculum, instruction, and new teacher growth in schools.
- The existing teacher shortage—especially in special education, math, and science, and in schools serving students of color, low-income students, and English Learners—will continue through 2018 and will increase, based in part on the predicted increase in the school-going population in the upcoming decade. Additionally, as the baby boomers move towards retirement, the need for teachers will continue to grow. While this is not a new problem, the challenges are present across the nation and will likely have to be tackled on multiple fronts at once to result in true change.
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Dr. Alisa J. Bates is Interim Dean in Concordia University-Portland’s College of Education. She earned an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction from Virginia Tech, and later earned her PhD in teacher education from Michigan State University.