Innovative learning requires the alignment of the entire organization, and that comes down to leadership. We know what that leadership looks like, and we now have standards that don’t just reflect that leadership, but demand it from every school leader, regardless of their context. The 2015 Professional Standards for Educational Leaders call for principals to approach every teacher conversation, every interaction with the central office, every analysis of data, with one question always in mind: How will this empower our students as learners? (more…)
If you’re like most school leaders, you have sat through countless hours of presentations and videos—some compulsory, some of your own choosing—that bear the broad label professional development. Typically, you’re talked at, given a few minutes to discuss, then talked at some more. This still-pervasive model reinforces a few damaging assumptions about professional learning. The first is the assumption that your professional learning is a passive activity—something that happens to you, not something you control and direct. The second is that professional learning is an information dump—the transfer of knowledge from an illuminated sage to, well, the rest of us. (more…)
There remains very little debate about whether students should use technology in learning. If there remains a doubt, let the adult without a computer on their desk—or in their pocket or laptop bag—cast the first stone. Technology is ubiquitous, and schools should be no exception.
A massive question remains, however, about how kids should use that technology. Sadly, some schools leverage new tools to streamline the same old methods of learning. And not surprisingly, these schools are seeing little effect on their students’ achievement. To make the most of our investment, we need to use technology to empower students to lead their own learning. (more…)
NASSP has launched a new strategic plan for 2014–2016, and the Ignite ’14 conference was our first opportunity to present the plan to NASSP members. Check out the video below to learn about our new mission and vision statement and six organizational goals: (more…)
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.