To see students and community members in action - that is the stuff we, as educators, dream about. Most recently in a suburban school district outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. My teammates, Megan Campion and Briana Cash, and I got to host community gatherings over the course of two-days with two in-person and two virtual sessions. These experiences confirmed the belief that districts should bring groups of people together to discuss and define the next strategic plan whether it’s a combination of virtual or in-person experiences.
Early in my career, when I was a middle school science teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina, I didn’t think that the ritual of shaking my students’ hands, fist bumping, or hugging my students as they entered our classroom meant anything. But now, I realize it’s the opposite. The repetitive habit of checking in with your team means everything. It’s a signal that your team is paying attention to the whole being of others, focusing on the little things, caring about the unity of the team, and so much more.
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Typically in times of uncertainty, organizations tend to shift their focus to getting results fast, maintaining order, and ensuring safety. These actions make sense to avoid the complexity that’s being thrown their way, however, it prevents organizations from using the time to lean in and learn from the experience. In June 2020, a team at Education Elements outlined how they were seeing their team and district partners increase agility and heighten their ability to prioritize a culture of learning even while navigating the unknown.
In the early month of December, Anthony Kim and I had the opportunity to visit Mason City Schools outside of the city of Cincinnati to ask the question, “How might we use responsive practices to know we are on track to exceeding our goals?” The initial relationship between Education Elements and Mason City Schools started over a casual conversation of the sharing of what books they were reading. One book being Measure What Matters by John Doerr. As a learning organization, we are always on the quest to learn from others who are impacting the educational landscape, and our hope is to help connect them to other innovators, and to share what they are learning with partners in our network. Christine McCormick, Innovative Systems Officer at Mason City Schools, is a disruptor, dreamer and visionary of what the potential of what a school district could look like.
Think back to a recent meeting you were in when you pondered why you were a part of the conversation. Or better yet, you thought about the 10 items in your inbox that needed your decision-making power but instead, you were stuck in a meeting where it wasn’t clear what you were making a decision about. We have districts this year that have created the “it” factor for running meetings that tap into everyone’s energy in better ways than ever. While it may seem like these district teams “just have the right people,” they have actually taken on a methodical approach to how to run team meetings. Based on The NEW School Rules, written by Anthony Kim, CEO of Education Elements, we have found over the last eight years that every leader wants to effectively make changes and create environments in team meetings that celebrate growth, excitement, and decision-making.
My Education Elements teammates and I recently compared our work with school districts to building a house. We traditionally start our work by building a strong foundation around what personalized learning is and what it can look like for a school district. Similar to finding the perfect home for a family, our first step is clearly defining the vision of personalized learning in the school district. Then, we determine what structures and support need to happen