Yep, that’s me belting out “Roxanne” at our holiday party last December. Until a few years ago I swore I’d never karaoke and prefered singing to be something done in the my car or kitchen. But once I sang my first “Sweet Caroline” with a group of friends I was hooked. There’s something powerful about a group of people taking a risk together and attempting to follow along with “How Will I Know” (you’re welcome for that little Wednesday Whitney gift). It’s always rough for the first brave soul who steps up to sing, but it gets more fun and increasingly compelling as more people and voices join in. As Leadership Lessons From A Dancing Guy teaches us, “as more people jump in, it’s no longer risky...and that is how a movement is made.”
I was thinking about this lesson as I worked with our team to prepare for our first national Personalized Learning Summit, which Education Elements will host in San Jose this May. It’s tough to be the first school or district to dramatically change teaching and learning. You are often scrutinized and criticized. I know that many of the districts we work with feel like they are alone in this tough and important work. When you can look at all the surrounding districts and see no one is doing what you are doing, it does feel pretty lonely. Most of the time districts can’t see what we see - that across the country there are many districts taking risks for their students. School and district leaders don’t have the chance to see that there are others who have faced similar problems and overcome them or that there are people who could learn from them. That’s why I’m thrilled that, through our PL Summit, we get the opportunity to bring together more than 200 leaders from around the country who are in various phases of personalizing learning for thousands of students. Over two days of school tours, keynotes, workshops, and working sessions we will make this work less lonely and more fun. For two days we will all learn from and teach each other. The PL Summit is a chance to make new friends, share ideas, ask questions, and strengthen our belief that every student deserves a personalized education. And who knows, we might just sing together.
Keara is a Managing Partner at Education Elements who focuses on how to build and scale a culture of innovation in large systems, how to create national communities of collaboration, and how to keep laughing when pursuing daunting, large-scale changes. She was lucky to collaborate with co-authors Alexis Gonzales-Black and Anthony Kim to design the website and toolkit for The NEW School Rules: 6 Practices for Responsive and Thriving Schools.
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