Guest post by Jill Janes.
I believe that searching for one’s identity is human nature. Though many recall periods of soul searching and identity crisis in adolescence, I think that finding an identity is not simply a growing pain that can be left behind. Throughout our lives we continue to encounter new social, personal, and professional situations that require us to continually reconsider who we are and how we fit into the given context.
Take my husband, for example. An outdoorsman with a love for anything technical, he grew up with one brother and any toy that required logical thinking and constructing. I witnessed one of his identity struggles when our two young daughters begged him to play together with their princess dolls. Loving father that he is, of course he accepted their request. However, I later found him more at ease when he combined the doll playing activity with a littleBits creation, resulting in a ballerina doll that twirled using a tiny motor while spotlighted by a pink LED light.
Like humans, I see that our schools are also in search of an identity. In my state of Iowa, recent legislation and state initiatives have encouraged schools to test new identities with competency-based instruction, STEM education, and models for teacher leadership. With a rise of 1:1 schools in the state, educators are experimenting with new teaching styles that break-down the school walls and connect students to one another. In an effort to meet today’s staff needs as well, school districts are trying out individualized professional development models that allow room for more personalized professional growth.
These identity searches excite me. The technical, cultural, and political changes in our society require our educational leaders to closely examine practices and purposes. What worked a decade ago may no longer work today. The educational reforms we previously believed in may not fit our needs anymore. While it may seem like our schools are always moving on to the next big thing, I see change actions as necessary in a school’s 21st century identity search.
Image credit: Fotologic on Flickr