I’ve mentioned to a few people that I’m having my education mid-life crisis. After almost 20 years in education, I’ve seen various initiatives, software solutions, and programs come and go. Hundreds of millions are spent each year trying to move the needle, yet we continue to get similar results. It isn’t without the sweat, blood, and tears of all the educators in the country that work so hard.
Last year I predicted a few things on the money:
But now I look back and while these were accurate predictions, they are not the ones that I would hope for, nor am I satisfied with them. In my mid-life education crisis, I’m wondering why we can’t predict the following for 2018:
Which leads me back to organizational design. In 2018, Education Elements is going to make a big push to have districts reconsider their organizational design. In February, Corwin Press will be releasing my new book, which I co-authored with Alexis Gonzales-Black, The NEW School Rules: 6 Vital Practices for Thriving and Responsive Schools. The book shares 6 critical practices around: planning, teams, roles, decision-making, sharing information, and learning organizations. The 6 practices are supported by 13 experiments for educators to experience for themselves how to be more responsive. In conjunction with the launch of my new book, we will launch a new website with several tools we call “workouts” to help you build your muscle around these practices.
As Tom Northup says: “All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they are now getting. If we want different results, we must change the way we do things.” We continue to expend tremendous amounts of resources trying to apply a fix to student outcomes and we continue to get mediocre results. In order to make significant change we need to look at how we work with each other everyday. How the adults work with each other will be reflected in how students experience teaching and learning.
So for 2018, consider not what we do, but how we do it. Think back to the why we do it. Yes I get it, “it’s for the kids”. If you really believe that and want to make sure you are on the right track, I ask you validate that with this simple experiment. Take 5 blank pieces of paper. Now imagine the classroom experience those kids would benefit from most. Draw what that might look like on each of the 5 sheets of paper, where each paper represents a subject. Send your drawings to @6NewSchoolRules.
Last year, I talked about how important it is for districts to have a partner to help strategize for changes in the classroom which empower both teachers and learners. In 2017, we built on top of the evolution we’ve undergone since the inception of Education Elements by adjusting our fundamental focus, our structure, and our services. The needle being slow to move is not a reflection of the hard work put in by district leaders and educators, but speaks to the systems which need to provide better support to our schools. This is why the teams at Education Elements are constantly working on developing and sharing better organizational practices, and why I wrote New School Rules. We’re excited to see what 2018 brings for our district partners.
Want to learn more great techniques and best practices to take your district and classroom efforts to the next level? Join us at The Personalized Learning Summit 2018 for informative keynotes with industry experts and inspiring discussions with education leaders like you.
Anthony is the author of "Personalized Learning Playbook, Why the Time is Now", and his new book, "The NEW School Rules: 6 Vital Practices for Thriving and Responsive Schools". He has contributed to many other publications on new school models including Lessons Learned from Blended Programs: Experiences and Recommendations from the Field. Anthony is a nationally recognized speaker on personalized learning and his work has been referenced by the Christensen Institute, iNACOL, EdSurge, CompetencyWorks, and numerous other research reports. His work includes partnering with districts across the country who are implementing personalized and blended learning through Education Elements. Beyond implementing personalized learning models, Anthony focuses his research on organizational design and culture of innovation at school districts. Though this research, he is currently working on a new book, called Responsive Ed, which bring self-organization strategies to districts so that they can be more responsive to the changing needs of the community. Anthony is a graduate of Cornell University and lives in San Francisco.