How will the noble profession of teaching be changing in the next decade? Can the nation’s schools improve student health and well-being? Is the era of high-stakes testing on the way out?
For its 90th anniversary celebration, the School of Education and Human Development (SEHD) is planning a panel discussion on key trends that will be shaping education in the 2020s. Several South Florida education experts will participate in the event, which will be held later in the school year and be open to the community.
“This is a transformative time in higher education, and our school can help shape the changing landscape,” said Laura Kohn-Wood, dean SEHD. “By drawing on the lessons from our school’s long history, and understanding current trends, we can better prepare our students for rewarding careers in teaching, counseling, coaching and other educational professions.”
The “community conversation” will be one of the highlights of the year-long celebration, “Looking Back, Looking Forward,” for the University of Miami School of Education, which was formally established in 1929.
“As we celebrate our 90th anniversary our energies are focused on recalling the history of the school and offering an array of celebratory events for alumni, students, friends, faculty and staff members,” said Kohn-Wood.
Looking back, Kohn-Wood said the school’s first classes were offered by five departments: Education, Elementary Education, Health Physical Education & Recreation, Industrial Education and Vocational Education. “Our current structure reflects those fields,” said Kohn-Wood, noting the SEHD’s three departments: Teaching and Learning (TAL), Kinesiology and Sport Sciences (KIN), and Educational and Psychological Studies (EPS).
Now, the school is taking time to reflect on timely issues facing today’s educators, said Kohn-Wood. For instance, advances in educational technology are providing classroom teachers with new tools to engage students with diverse learning styles. However, adoption rates for applications like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are well below their potential deployment in schools.
Another issue is the mental and physical health of students, who face an ongoing barrage of stresses in their daily lives. Teachers, counselors and administrators need fact-based strategies to address problems like obesity, bullying, suicide and school security, Kohn-Wood said.
There are also growing concerns about the effectiveness of standardized student testing. “The last round of educational reform put the onus for student performance on teachers and schools,” said Kohn-Wood. “But we have to look at the broader social context, since poverty, family disruptions and poor nutrition play a huge role in students’ ability to be successful in the classroom.”
In the coming year, Kohn-Wood said the school will also strive to increase public recognition of the vital role that teachers play in society. “Without teachers, there would be no doctors, engineers, coaches, psychologists or other professionals,” she said. “Our teachers are responsible to educating the leaders of tomorrow and we need to give them the respect and support they deserve.”