New Designs for School
New Designs for School

We’ve all had the experience of truly purposeful, authentic learning and know how valuable it is. Educators are taking the best of what we know about learning, student support, effective instruction, and interpersonal skill-building to completely reimagine schools so that students experience that kind of purposeful learning all day, every day.

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Educators want students to have what they really need from school; the biggest challenge is how to improve the learning experience.

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Sometimes, teaching (at this point in life) feels like our first time at the amusement park. We arrive with all of those emotions: excited, terrified, happy, but more than anything else, ready.

Considering there is enough information available for everyone these days (we can just type what we need and BOOM! AI has solved it), teachers need to run toward the new trends to speak the same language as students while also being the person who guides them in their learning paths (considering we are the ones who must know it all). Being a teacher may just be the most exciting adventure.

Just like a rollercoaster, teaching has peaks, slopes, and some aspects that just take my breath away. Sometimes teaching turns me upside down and it changes faster than I can blink. As soon as I think everything is under control, there is something new I need to implement, i.e., curriculum, schedule, teaching strategies, new trends, different personalities. I am usually excited to be part of the change at first, but just like roller coasters, after three or four times riding them, it becomes overwhelming, frustrating, tiring.

As a high school English and Psychology teacher in Mexico, I have all of those first-day-at-the-amusement-park emotions when I show up for my students, and I must not forget that as a human being, I also have a family, issues, payments to make, hobbies…

This may seem like getting distracted from the amusement park just to go and buy a soda because it has been quite a blast to be exposed to all of these emotions for several times in a short period.

I am pretty sure our educators want to give students what they really need and be careful with how they do it just to cover basic needs. We are knowledgeable, lifetime learners, and interested in implementing innovative teaching and learning practices. It seems the biggest challenge is HOW to JUST do that.

How can we improve the learning experience for both students and educators? How can we create a learning space where students can spend more time practicing their skills rather than listening to an educator lecture; collaborate to share, decide, make mistakes, and find solutions together; make revisions as needed; and have autonomy of their learning experience? Without forgetting their individual needs while covering a lesson!

Implementing this kind of learning environment is not easy because we also have to deal with challenges that may hinder us. Let’s take a look at how the scope in practice changes every given time, how public schools and private schools have different policies and different needs of the students who attend them, and how some educators want to teach traditionally and are resistant to change.

The glue on the rails, the HOW of the roller coaster ride, for me has been the Modern Classrooms Project (MCP). Modern Classrooms Project provides an instructional model that uses blended instruction, self-paced structures, and mastery-based learning. MCP has helped me put all the ideas to improve the learning experience together. We even have a new curriculum to follow, new scopes that work in public or private education, new schedules, new ideas we need to implement. I found that MCP is a solution so powerful that teachers and students can continue on the ride, even if policymakers decide to change the roller coaster once again.

From what students need, to taking care of the teacher, this model has provided me with the tools and accommodations that I knew I needed without knowing how to make it happen. Instruction may be driven by a video that is engaging for students, which may be consulted any time. Objectives are clear from the beginning, and students take advantage of it because they are able to create their own paths. Their progress may be checked at any point (by them), turning pupils into autonomous learners who decide for themselves. And if there is any mistake, they are able to fix it and they may practice the skill with differentiated instruction considering UDL too. And last but not least, students may check on their learning with a Mastery Check, and if there is the need, reassess for the better.

I can guarantee that if you ride the new roller coaster with the glue on the rails—blended instruction, self-paced structures, and mastery-based learning—this time will be the best ride ever and you will find so many possibilities to make it work for your own preferences and context that it will become your favorite one.

Photo at top courtesy of Metro Institute of Technology (MIT), Columbus, Ohio.

En español

Perla Lujan headshot

Perla Luján (she/her)

Academic Coach, Prepa Anáhuac México Campus Oxford

Perla Lujan has been teaching for almost 10 years from kindergarten to university. Her passion is high school. She studied psychology at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and got several degrees on teaching English. Her first master's degree is about English teaching and the second one is in neuropsychology. Perla loves languages and speaks English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. She also loves technology as a tool for education. She is ISTE certified and a Modern Classrooms Project mentor, which has given her the opportunity to meet many amazing people around the globe!