It’s not a complicated formula: Identify a set of schools that have found ways to overcome challenges we all face. Pull those leadership teams together into the same space for a day. Then let the knowledge and ideas flow. That simplicity is at the heart of the Breaking Ranks School Showcase, which kicked off the first full day of learning at Ignite ’14.
I have had the pleasure of attending many of these showcases over the years—with all kinds of schools from all across the country—and two truths become clearer with each showcase:
- The themes are remarkably consistent. No matter the school’s demographics or its starting point, the path to success was paved through collaboration; personalization; and aligned and meaningful curriculum, instruction, and assessment. There is always a realization as well that the team can’t “work on the work” of academics until the team has established a culture in which every student feels safe, known, and valued.
- No two schools execute on those themes the same way. Nor should they. Each school has its own character, which an effective improvement program fosters rather than supplants. That’s why we don’t call the Breaking Ranks Framework for School Improvement a school reform program. It’s not a set of prescriptive steps designed to make one school replicate another. Instead, it guides leadership teams through their own journeys of discovery.
And if energy is any indication, this year’s showcase promises to be the best yet. We hope you’ll share your discoveries on this blog and on our other social media backchannels.