2022 will go down in the annals of education history as a milk toast year. Or perhaps, a breather year. After the amazing heroics of 2020 and the outstanding recovery of 2021, 2022 was a year where we got back to work in as normal a pattern as was possible, and we proceeded to conduct business as usual, or as usual as we could.
There were challenges.
Staff shortages were very pronounced, and many of our students chose not to return to business as usual, having tasted the alternatives and found those preferable.
But in spite of those challenges, and more than $100 billion in various stimuli still needing to be spent, most districts took a hard turn back to the comfort of the pre-pandemic status quo. But that is not surprising. After the years we had in 2020 and 2021, we needed that comfort, such as it was, to restore a wee bit of sanity to our grizzled psyches.
So, are you rested? Feeling a bit better? I hope so. Because 2023 is going to be a fantastic year, filled with forward movement and much needed change. 2023 is the year that we make the changes we have wanted to make for many years. The year that we mold our education organizations into the learner-centered systems we know we need. The year that our teachers and students begin returning. 2023 will be a year that matters. And we are all a part of that.
Here’s what to look for in 2023
States and school districts find their wallets. After an almost blatant non-use of the remaining stimulus funds, 2023 will see states and school districts open the purse strings. We have already seen it starting in the past month or two, but beginning in January, the flood gates will open. And here’s what is on the menu:
Wellness: In 2023, look for spending on wellbeing programs in all forms to increase significantly. Research from almost every corner of the globe points to the need for wellbeing assistance for students, teachers and administrators. Fortunately, the help is available, and school and district personnel understand the need and are willing to do what it takes to make the situation more tenable. Increasing the effort towards wellbeing will do more than almost anything else to bring back teachers and students. And it is coming in a big way.
Data Management: In 2023, look for spending on data management to go way up. The amount of data that we have and the inability to get a handle on it has become one of the biggest headaches for superintendents and their staffs, and this headache continues at the school level, burdening teachers to no end. In this coming year, look for education organizations to finally get a handle on all that data. We’ll go from a quagmire of unorganized information to a pool of actionable information designed to make learning better, more efficient and more enjoyable for staff.
The re-alignment of space and time: No Scotty, don’t beam me up, but in 2023, we’ll see an educational transformation through changing the standard grade-and-class structure to a hybrid model of time and space use, characterized as learning “uberization.” This changes structure to small group or individual paths that still intersect with live teaching. Hybrid Logistics is an emerging disruptive technology that precisely uses human teachers for their skills with students as needed. Since teachers are not always tied to a classroom, they can roam to help individual students but still have live teaching moments to lecture, hold discussions, and do hands-on projects. This will make the best use of teachers and their talents, softening the strain of staffing shortages.
Cognitive Skills training is introduced: In 2023, we’ll see a number of school districts discover the benefits of cognitive skills training. It has been a long time coming, but states including Indiana, Massachusetts and others are making the decision to add cognitive skills training to the menu, finding that an increase in the brain’s capacity to gather, hold and process information helps virtually all learning situations. Attention skills, visual processing skills, auditory processing skills, sensory integration skills, memory skills and others can be increased, resulting in happier, more confident and more capable learners.
Schools enter the Metaverse: In 2023, we’ll see the K-12 world try out the Metaverse. Last year, higher ed got involved, with the launching of ten “Metaversities” across the country, including Cal State, The University of Kansas, South Dakota State, New Mexico State, Northern Illinois University, Alabama A&M, West Virginia University, University of Maryland Global and Southwestern Oregon Community College. Only a couple K-12 schools followed suit. This coming year, we’ll see both public and independent schools joining the fun, using technology to increase learning and in many instances, expending or creating needed facilities where none exist.
Reviving the spirit of American education
In 2023, the receding tide of teachers will slow considerably. As teaching conditions improve, the numbers of teachers who leave the profession will slow considerably. Of course, that is only half the challenge. The other half is encouraging more people to enter into schools of ed and continuing to find new pools of candidates from other professions. Many states are considering tuition assistance for students entering schools of education. Others are reviewing their compensation structure. And while money is always an issue, it isn’t always the issue. If it were, the profession would have dried up years ago. Show teachers a profession that is rewarding, where they actually get to teach and are not required to spend 10 – 20 hours per week searching for programming, creating lessons or dealing with minutia. If they love their jobs, they will come to work. If they hate their jobs, no amount of money will keep them there.
In 2023, we’ll concentrate on using technology to its highest level. One of the problems with technology isn’t that there is too much; on the contrary, there is rarely enough. This coming year, let’s make education the envy of every other industry out there. We have smart people in education – often brilliant people. And they are as dedicated as the day is long. Let’s give them what they need and then some. Let’s make sure we have all the wiz-bang tools and toys, so much so that there is no finer alternative out there. In 2023, money isn’t the issue. Our will is. Let’s will ourselves into the finest, most advanced, most efficient and most effective schooling in the history of the world.
And then, let’s get even better.
About the author
Charles Sosnik is an education journalist and editor and serves as Editor in Chief at the Learning Counsel. An EP3 Education Fellow, he uses his deep roots in the education community to add context to the education narrative. Charles is a frequent writer and columnist for some of the most influential media in education, including the Learning Counsel, EdNews Daily, EdTech Digest and (ET) Magazine. Unabashedly Southern, Charles likes to say he is an editor by trade and Southern by the Grace of God.