Jobs That Don’t Exist Yet

My friends and I keep talking about the idea that we are “teaching our students to be prepared for jobs that don’t exist yet”. It hit me the other day that I am currently employed in a job that didn’t exist when I was in school!

I am currently an Innovative Learning Strategist for the Salem/Keizer School District in Oregon. When people ask what I do I tell them that I work with teachers to help them implement technology into their classes in a meaningful way. In all of my years as a student I don’t remember ever seeing someone helping my teacher actually teach with technology. There was always someone with an A/V, Audio Visual, title who was able to help the teachers turn on their overhead projectors or VCRs but no one ever talked to them about how to teach with the “technology”, as far as I know. I am not sure that my job existed even five years ago at the district level.

I have begun to think about whether or not I was prepared, in school, for this job. I don’t think that I was. When I was a student in the 1980’s I remember completing a lot of worksheets and doing assignments that had very specific outcomes tied to them. I could even do extra credit work if my grade was not what I wanted it to be. I was not prepared, by my teachers, to do things using a variety of tools or to think outside of the box. I was one of the first kids to consistently turn in my writing assignments using a word processing program. At the time I was told that I had to turn in a handwritten rough draft first so that I could edit it properly. I was never good at that. I have, as long as I can remember, been able to write better using a computer or word processor and edit as I write than hand write drafts and edit. I have always been pretty good at math. I remember one day when my College Algebra/Trigonometry teacher and I had a collaborative moment, thank you @CorinRichards for that phrase. I solved a math problem in a way that he didn’t expect and instead of investigating that way further I was told that it was like entering a house through a window instead of the unlocked front door.

Through a series of meeting new people and other circumstances I have fallen into a great job as an Innovative Learning Strategist. I get to help teachers and students every day. I get to help teachers begin to feel comfortable with the rapidly changing world of technology and how those changes can be used for good in their classrooms. Yesterday I witnessed a fifth grade class using chromebooks for the first time successfully collaborating on presentations. The teacher was very brave to allow that to happen. I met with an elementary school principal who, I don’t think he knows it yet, is on the cutting edge in trying to get devices for his students so that they can be successful in the future and not just for state testing. Being an Innovative Learning Strategist is a great job that I am very fortunate to have. Was I prepared, in school, for this job? I don’t think so.

What are you doing today to prepare your students or children for jobs that don’t exist yet? What can you do tomorrow to ensure that our kids are ready for the future?