When it comes to education innovation, all cities are not created equal.
Imagine a map of what a learner needs to know, different ways to learn it, and a collection of their demonstrations of competence. You're probably picturing a blended learning environment for students. Instead, imagine that every teacher has access to their own professional map--reflecting common expectations differentiated by speciality, subject, level, and school type--that offers a clear description of what teachers should know and be able to do.
It can be a difficult challenge for teachers to meet students where they are and also teach grade-level mathematics. Negotiating that tension is the subject of this post, in which I'll offer some thoughts on striking smart balances in rotation models. I've also included thoughts from two mathematics teachers, Allyson ("Ryan") Redd of North Carolina and Peter Tang of Tennessee.
When Preston Smith and I started Rocketship almost 9 years ago, one of the things he really cared about was the relationship between teachers and parents. It had been incredibly important to his success as both a teacher and principal. Preston built an incredibly deep culture of parent engagement at Rocketship with home visits to every family, monthly community meetings, and volunteer time in every classroom.
About a week into my tenure as the director of the new Race to the Top program in 2009, I found myself enmeshed in policy conversations that were wholly unfamiliar to me. "I understand that you want to give states all this freedom to innovate," I was told, "but how are we going to prevent bad actors from doing harm?"
Across Reynoldsburg City School District (RCS), personalization of learning is increasingly achieved at the classroom and individual student level through the shift to blended learning. Blended learning requires a fundamental redesign of instructional and organizational models, transforming the core elements of teaching and learning--changing roles, structures, schedules, staffing, and core budgets.
It's testing season and lots of kids are taking multiple choice tests--more online than last year but lots of the same old item types. It's part of a 100 year old 'teach then test' cycle of assessment as a summative activity.
Most districts put "innovation" at the top of their agendas these days, but too few are innovating with a purpose. The Reynoldsburg City School District (RCS) is becoming an exemplar for how to unleash principals' and teachers' creativity in meaningful ways that are guided but not prescribed or limited by a central office agenda.
"What am I prepared to do to improve all facets of my school?" This is the driving question in Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times by Eric Sheninger, principal of New Milford High School in New Milford, New Jersey.
The local NPR station ran a great story by America Abroad Media (@America_Abroad) about how government helps and harms entrepreneurs (available on iTunes). Interest in job creation and the growth in the number of incubators makes this a timely topic.