Supporting Teachers and Schools: A Global Imperative

Tomorrow, our partner UNESCO celebrates World Teachers Day, when thousands of communities around the globe honor the women and men who selflessly (and for little material reward) hold our collective future in their hands. It’s a lot to ask, but we trust teachers to help shape our children into productive, responsible citizens for the future. And without the innovative teachers who are redefining education for the 21st century, that future would be very uncertain indeed.

As the joint impacts of rapidly advancing technology and environmental change continue to remake the global economy, we must build a workforce to support it. We know that well more than 50 percent of today’s jobs require some technology skills, and that percentage is expected to rise to nearly 80 percent in the next decade. We also know that technology alone does not improve student outcomes. Only when schools undergo systematic change — rethinking curriculum design and assessment, school leadership, teacher capacity and learning environments — can technology advance learning. Here at Microsoft, we’re committed to providing the resources and tools needed for this system to make a real impact toward improving education, and teachers are driving that change, each and every day.

As part of my job, I have the privilege to witness first-hand, in every corner of the world, educators who are discovering creative new ways to integrate technology into the classroom. These teachers are using technology, from videoconferencing to social networking to advanced gaming, to build the 21st century skills that will make today’s students and the countries they call home competitive. Today, I’m proud to announce the 2012 Microsoft Innovative Mentor and Pathfinder Schools. These inspiring schools and the educators that lead them are shining examples of what passion, commitment and broad-based community support can do to develop our future engines of economic growth.

As we recognize these accomplished schools and teachers today, we must also work to build a system to support them. The Microsoft Innovative Schools Program helps school leaders develop a vision to transform their school community into an environment that fosters 21st century learning and innovative teaching practices. There are now more than 20,000 schools in the program, positively impacting millions of lives every day. The aim is to discover, share and scale best practices, develop models and assets that any school or school system can use to help students achieve their full potential, and create a collaborative community of like-minded school leaders.

All of this work helps to transform education for today and the future, but most important, ensures a brighter and more successful adulthood for our young people. As we prepare to celebrate World Teachers Day, we tip our hats to the men and women who are helping us achieve our commitment to a holistic transformation of learning across the globe. As part of that commitment, yesterday we launched the Technology and Teacher Education Initiative at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, to provide colleges of teacher education the resources they need to prepare the next generation of innovative educators. 

Ron Canuel, CEO of the Canadian Education Association and one of the educators we profiled earlier this year in Daily Edventures said, “The first and MOST important element that any leader must have when integrating technology and change in the classroom: courage. Simply put, no courage and no change.”

On this day set aside to honor courageous and innovative teachers, let’s all resolve to have the courage and commitment to support educators in their critical mission: nothing less than building a better and more sustainable future for our world.

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