3 Things Educators Should Expect This Year in Their Schools


The nation’s most rapidly improving schools are much more future-focused than forward-focused. That’s one finding we’ve come across in our ongoing research.

A forward-focused school looks to the past to determine what can be improved going forward. A future-focused school looks to the future to see what can be improved going forward. These schools build backward from the future rather than building forward from the past. The benefit and power of a future focus is that it leads to more sweeping and fundamental changes in classrooms and schools—which is what we need to educate students today.

As we usher in a new year, it’s instructive for us all to think about what the future is telling us. With that, I offer my predictions for K-12 education in 2019.

Prediction #1: Social-emotional learning will be front and center for ALL.

Our children are facing a mental health crisis so severe that no educator will be able to ignore or downplay it any longer. Twenty-five percent of anxiety and depression cases occur by age 14, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. And 16 percent of high school students have thought seriously about suicide, data shows.

Up until now, social-emotional learning (SEL) has been viewed as the responsibility of a few staff for just those students in need of intervention and treatment services. In 2019, the growing focus on and around SEL will accelerate to a point where districts address it as a core responsibility of all staff and view it as a development stage for all students. This will impact education delivery from all teachers and to all students, such that SEL becomes layered into curricula.

Prediction #2: Career-ready will equal college-ready.

The average 2017 college graduate holds $39,400 in student loan debt—a 6 percent increase from 2016. Due to a changing economy, these same students struggle to find work that matches their college education and can pay them enough to pay off debt; or they lack the career skills that the changing technology landscape requires to gain high-paying jobs. And then there are students who enter college but don’t graduate. Of the 2011 cohort of students entering a two-year or four-year college program, only 56.9 percent received a diploma or credential within six years.

How we guide our students to make post-high school decisions will place greater emphasis on career skills. With college proving more and more inaccessible or impractical to many students and technology rapidly changing the career skill landscape, educators in 2019 will prioritize career skills over college skills.

Prediction #3: Teachers will shift to become facilitators of instruction.

Recent technologies and new innovations in 2019 will continue to change how educators teach. With so many technology options for information and instruction dissemination, teachers today are freed up to give more time to providing personalized instruction and attention to all students.

In 2019, more teachers will embrace this fact and better understand how technology can change their roles as educators. Educators will also recognize that this personalized attention to students is one way to deliver more SEL instruction, shifting the idea of teachers as facilitators of instruction from an uncomfortable change to a welcome and necessary opportunity.

All of us at ICLE and HMH wish you and your fellow educators a productive, positive, and happy new year. In 2019, may you and your teams commit to the bold and visionary act of making high-impact improvements that you want to see for students tomorrow, today.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.


You can book a keynote with blog contributor and ICLE Founder Dr. Bill Daggett to bring his expertise on systemwide improvement to your school district.

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