Education Leaders Gather at National Conference to Focus on the Future of Schools

Education leaders from various parts of the country convened in Washington, D.C., for the 2024 Future-Focused Schools Conference hosted by Successful Practices Network (SPN).

Last week, the conference explored the evolving educational landscape, shifting student and employer demands, and effective strategies, particularly in North Carolina.

Dr. Bill Daggett, Founder and Executive Chair of SPN, highlighted the changing landscape with factors like generative Artificial Intelligence (AI), a new student generation, and the need for improved career planning and postsecondary options.

During the conference’s opening keynote, Daggett emphasized the importance of preparing students for the future and not dwelling on the past, stressing the need for schools to adapt to the unknown proactively.

The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted the challenges faced by students and schools even before 2020.

In recent years, there has been a significant surge in students’ use of social media platforms.

According to the 2023 NC Youth Risk Behavior Survey in North Carolina, over 80% of high school students reported using social media multiple times a day, with 37% using it at least once per hour.

Dr. Daggett warned about the potential negative impacts of excess screen time, linking it to mental health issues, social isolation, addiction, and other problems.

Addressing AI technology, schools are revising policies to incorporate AI and educating students on responsible AI usage.

Daggett emphasized the benefits of AI in enhancing teacher planning, personalized learning, and developing durable skills for students.

He underscored the importance of closing the gap in AI proficiency among all students, irrespective of their background.

As schools adapt to technological shifts, they need to redefine their educational goals and curricular frameworks.

McNulty, the SPN president, emphasized the need to embed “foresight thinking” into educational systems to anticipate and prepare for evolving challenges.

A future-focused school system promotes a proactive culture, cognitive and interpersonal skills, proactive instruction, and self-leadership skills.

SPN’s 2022 paper outlined phases like Portrait of a Graduate, strategic planning, and executive coaching to accelerate the transition to future-focused education.

North Carolina’s Portrait of a Graduate initiative aims to instill adaptable skills like collaboration, problem-solving, and critical thinking in students.

Daggett stressed the significance of durable skills that AI cannot replace, emphasizing the necessity of equipping students with these essential competencies.

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