What We Believe at Education Elements
The end of one year and the beginning of the next is frequently a time of reflection and introspection, writing lists, and making resolutions. In the spirit of the season, I've been reflecting on my time with Education Elements. I’ve been a part of the Ed Elements team since 2013 - not quite six years - and in that time, I’ve seen quite a lot of change in the work we do and the work schools and districts ask us to do. But, I’ve also been surprised and proud at how much has remained the same in terms of our mission, culture, and how we think about these challenges.
From the beginning, we’ve taken the position that sustainable educational change doesn’t happen because each teacher alone leans into their craft. Rather, we believe that because we are all connected within communities, districts, schools, and teams, our work together is as important as the individual work we need to do. Our theory of practice has always been focused on systemic change within and across these groups, with the belief that by shifting the culture, and growing competencies as they relate to leading change, school and district leaders can realize long-term success. We started many years ago by working with school and district leadership teams, rather than a superintendent, a principal, or a teacher alone, and I’m excited by the most recent additions to our thinking in this regard: including our CEO’s book The NEW School Rules: 6 Vital Practices for Thriving and Responsive Schools, our Leadership Institutes, and our Leadership Competencies for Teachers, Principals, Coaches, and District Leaders.
We’ve never believed in the adage, “Do as I say, not as I do”. In fact, we’ve always believed the opposite. To be successful, we’ve always felt that there must be congruence between our expectations for others and our expectations for ourselves. We often help educators to design and iterate, and we do it ourselves as well, using design-thinking and iteration in our work. The same holds for supporting organizations in being more responsive. In fact, our own thinking about team meeting protocols began with a hard look at our internal meetings: about how we thought about building agendas, checking-in emotionally, and managing roles. We explored various options including holacracy, and through practice and iteration, we are better versions of our former selves.
Similarly, we remind districts of the idea introduced by Tom Northrup that says that all organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they are now getting – so if you don’t like your results, you have to change. This came up recently as I sat in on an internal meeting where a team member reflected on a project, and we realized that we needed to evolve and change if we wanted to get better at what we do. And time and again we do just that. We regularly rethink how we hire, how we communicate, and how we share our story. Our most recent iterations are shared in our Responsive Org Playbook – a transparent look at how we currently think about the way we work, how we manage projects, roles, and our own professional development.
Education Elements has also always been an organization that believes in the agency of students and adults. We believe that groups must come together and work together to improve; that these systems are dynamic and ever-changing; and that it is our mission to help these organizations meet the needs of every learner. This is a big part of why we host the Personalized Learning Summit every year, where hundreds of educators and education leaders gather to learn from experts and from each other. How we accomplish this goal may vary over time and context, but our mission has remained the same. We are passionate about working through the messiness of all of this and helping educators and their students. This has also resulted in resources customized for districts, grade levels, and subject areas that are embedded within common frameworks for understanding. This year, we released our Core 4 Continuum for Personalized Learning and the First 20 Days of Personalized Learning, among other resources, as well as the Ultimate Guide for Personalized Learning, which is a collection of deep knowledge and resources sourced from literature and the work of several education organizations, including our own work and research.
This holiday season, as many take time to reflect on their values – and look within towards their own north star – we at Education Elements are taking time to reflect on ours. We are proud of who we are and how we always strive to grow and improve, and thankful for all of the educators we have met and worked with along the way. So, from our team of 40 dedicated experts – who over the last eight years, have worked together across the country with almost 1000 schools and districts – we wish you a very healthy, joyous, successful year. May your holidays be bright.
Enjoy this holiday message from our team – we'll see you in 2019!