Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Changing the Discourse in Schools

This week Cohort II of the Deeper Learning Equity Fellows meets in Oakland, CA for the first time face-to-face.This week will require not only deeper learning but deep reflection, designing/gaining empathy for others and sharing our stories - most importantly it's about having a bias for action. Given the events of the last few weeks the timing couldn't be better to gather with a group of social justice change-agents form across the nation. I've done several pre-work readings and assessments of my own practice. One of the readings claims, "Teachers are seldom if ever given the opportunity to do active learning and engage in reflective discourse about the effects of their work." Everyone that reads my work or tweets knows I promote and have done research on active leaning to improve teaching and learning in schools. However, it takes much more than active learning and innovative approaches to teaching to support and build systemic change in schools. In urban schools administrators and educators must also be sensitive to using existing cultural ways that promotes symptomatic issues like attendance, dropouts, discipline, low test scores, and low grades. 

Often in cultural organizations like schools, we exchange one cultural way for another that maintains outcomes that sort by race, class, and gender. We simply follow "the change process" and implement something adapted to the old cultural ways. A fundamental belief in process is part of school cultures. If we followed the process and nothing changed, then the explanation must be in the thing being implemented. It did not work. This cultural way is a major factor in allowing schools to have the appearance of responding to change without having to change anything substantive."  Many folks have suggested to me that the way to improve urban-type schools is through more structured "discipline," I would disagree.  One of the readings (Eubanks, Parish, Smith) suggests that urban type schools are viewed as "needing more structure" because they are "from disadvantaged conditions" or "from single parent families" or "working families" or "more dangerous." The problem is viewed as part of something in the students and their lives outside of school. Therefore, controlling or "teaching them discipline" is viewed as a solution. Approaches like this have the effect of maintaining the existing cultural ways in schools. This summer I also became a fan of Professor Chris Emdin's work and took his teaching on reality pedagogy to heart. We have carefully adopted his strategies into our school culture, not tried to "change" or blame students but to support them and the unique culture they bring to our community. 

Oftentimes, we blame everyone and everywhere except where the problem probably largely lies-in a social/economic-cultural system that requires and "needs" to create persons of poverty to preserve a well-protected system of social privilege (Fine, 1990). Adam Smith (1776) said that in order to create persons of wealth to advance civilization, it is necessary to create persons of poverty. Six hundred to one was his ratio. In America today the ratio may be a little higher. Both today and in the future, knowledge and creation of meaning will be essential for whatever life choices people wish to make. To deny a person the fullest intellectual and personal development is to deny a fundamental human right. Certainly, in our social context it denies property, liberty, and probably eventually life. "Everyone will not want the same things or same paths, but to have a choice requires intellectual
development beyond that to what we now provide for a select 20 percent" This statement is profound and why programs like the Deeper Learning Equity Fellows exist. We must somehow find ways to help our educators confront this system of schooling that continues and maintains the hegemony and sorting (hooks, 1992a; Shor and Freire, 1987; Parish et al., 1989). The challenge before us is how to go about changing the work of schools. How do we change so that the work and convenience of the adults, takes second place to learning, for everyone? How do we help those in schools cut through cultural myths without making them feel defensive, guilty, or at fault? 

More this week as I learn with and from my cohort of Deeper Learning Equity Fellows. 





Reference:

Eugene Eubanks, Ralph Parish and Dianne Smith. “Changing the Discourse in Schools.” In Race, Ethnicity, and Multiculturalism: Policy and Practice, ed. Peter Hall. New York: Routledge, 1997.






Sunday, October 30, 2016

What Mindsets Are You Building in Your School?


There is power in diversity. Diverse teams, thinking and locations. As the world becomes more global, cross-cultural competency will become an important skill for all workers, not just those who have to operate in diverse geographical environments. Organizations increasingly see diversity as a driver of innovation. We know that what makes a group truly intelligent and innovative is the combination of different ages, skills, disciplines, and working and thinking styles that members bring to the table. Global connectivity, smart machines, and new media are just some of the drivers reshaping how we think about work, what constitutes work, and the skills we will need to be productive contributors in the future.
HFA Mindset Model 

Our Holy Family Academy (HFA) mindset model, infused throughout our classes, work-study internship program and projects, seeks to build resiliency, entrepreneurial thinking, problem solving ability, and servant leadership − dispositions shown to be as equally important to technical or specific job related skills.

The HFA mindset model is based on future-ready competencies identified by our work study partners, faculty and literature reviews. As we continue to shift our curricular program from partially project-based to almost entirely project-based, the mindset model will be a guiding compass.

As the Head of School, I look for opportunities to demonstrate our future-ready mindsets to the faculty, staff and our students. Faculty at HFA get generous planning time while students are at work one day a week and on Fridays when they are off campus at one of our seven curricular learning partners. Students have the time to work building these Mindsets not only in their classes and our work study internship program but through our advisory program. Groups of students write WOOP Goals (Character Lab) and assess their understanding and growth of these Mindsets weekly on an APP designed and coded in our student-run game design company, EDGE.

Our work-study program (which allows a private school education as an option to all families as well as providing real-life opportunities to build our Mindsets) is a required part of the HFA experience. All students starting in 9th grade have an internship once a week, the entire school-year. As students identify pathways that match their goals, strengths and post-secondary plans, they reflect in eportfolios and can earn one of 85 digital badges or "micro-credentials" that are endorsed by our work study partners. The Mindsets are not just a banner in our Innovation Center (below) but dispositions that will prepare our students for the future of work and life.

What Mindsets does your school stand for and integrate into your programs?


Students in Integrated Design Lab Discussing our Mindset Model


Monday, June 20, 2016

A Teacher-Powered Approach to Professional Development

It’s a normal Friday morning at Holy Family Academy, a two-year-old independent Catholic high school in Pittsburgh with 125 students. While students engage in projects at our partner sites off campus, faculty gather in our innovation lab for weekly professional development time.
Our director of innovation kicks off the morning with a round of Rose, Thorn, Bud, a design-thinking method that faculty use to describe the details of their week. Pairs of co-teachers huddle around tables filled with laptops, Post-its, and design templates to prepare “teach and lead” sessions. In this mini edcamp, faculty take turns leading inspiration sessions. For faculty, this time is not only about planning their professional growth but also about learning together as a community.
 
We know that for innovation to flourish in school, the idea of “learning is for everyone” needs to be an attitude as well as an activity. Building this learning culture starts with providing opportunities for support, reflection, and growth among faculty. Tactically, it means creating space and time for faculty to collaborate, co-teach, and learn from each other.
 
Teacher-centered professional development can be a practical way to create an active learning community. After all, how many times have teachers made jokes about professional development or rolled their eyes at the “sage on the stage” leading some one-off session during an in-service day? Imagine if professional development focused on meaningful, challenging, feasible goals and was woven into each faculty member’s regular schedule?
 
PD 4.jpg
Faculty members participate in a "teach and lead" professional development session. Credit: Holy Family Academy.

We Start with a Wish

Meaningful professional development is exactly what we’ve started at Holy Family Academy. This year, we implemented the WOOP (wish, outcome, obstacle, plan) goal-setting framework from the Character Lab at the University of Pennsylvania. In this framework, faculty members design personalized professional development plans and gain power through “teach and lead” sessions. We begin by helping faculty members identify meaningful wishes, ones that are challenging but possible. Recent wishes include learning how to infuse mindfulness into the classroom, planning new field-based learning opportunities for students, and incorporating new technologies into courses.
 
“The solution isn’t to do away with dreaming and positive thinking,” says Gabriele Oettingen, whose research guided the WOOP goal framework. “Rather, it’s making the most of our fantasies by brushing them up against the very thing most of us are taught to ignore or diminish: the obstacles that stand in our way.”
 
WOOP is just one example of a teacher-powered approach to professional development, which shifts control away from school administration and enables faculty members to own their learning. In this method, faculty members learn their strengths, work to identify common interests and partnership opportunities with other faculty members, and commit to at least four hours of professional development each week. Dedicated instructional innovation coaches move beyond the roles of traditional curriculum or ed tech coordinators to roles of co-teachers, peer mentors, and planners. These teacher-leaders take a reduced teaching load and catalyze changes in teaching and learning.
 
PD 1.jpg
Teachers engage in weekly professional development. Credit: Holy Family Academy.

Weekly Professional Development: How We Do It

In Holy Family Academy’s effort to reimagine teaching and learning for both students and teachers, every Friday the entire faculty works on WOOP goals on campus, and students learn in the field as part of our Network Campus program. About 18 to 20 faculty and some staff meet for about three hours to engage in peer mentoring, design thinking, and prototyping. Sometimes they meet as a large team; other times, they gather in small teams of three to five teachers from different disciplines. In this process, they form personal learning networks with their peers, and note barriers to growth and innovation.
 
Faculty also receive support from our director of innovation, our principal, and even me from time to time. As head of school, I believe it’s important to participate regularly to stay connected to the pulse of our learning community as we build our culture. I meet with our academic administration team weekly to plan a strategic and meaningful professional development plan for the school. Our principal and director of innovation execute that plan and provide me feedback on how it’s working. We stay nimble and make adjustments as needed.
 
As school leaders, we try to accommodate faculty members’ wishes if budget and space permit. For example, if a teacher says using more technology in the classroom is a barrier because of a lack of equipment, he or she makes a request to school leadership and typically receives permission to purchase the needed equipment.
 
In addition to the WOOP goal-setting framework, we regularly use different design-thinking methods to guide and shape our work as a community. We innovate at the macro levels of school decision-making, such as parent-teacher conferences, as well as the micro levels, including the lunch line. Our design-thinking methods include:
 
Rose, Thorn, Bud
How it works: Participants seek positive outcomes, outcomes that require iteration, and opportunities for growth.
When to use: To reflect on how a program, event, or lesson went.
 
Creative Matrix
How it works: Participants generate new ideas for multiple problem statements or stakeholders.
When to use: To foster a collaborative voice with large strategic initiatives, such as designing a new schedule or reimagining an advisory program.
 
Difficulty Impact Matrix
How it works: Participants identify which ideas will have the most impact and are least difficult to execute. This visual approach helps people see whether an idea is realistic. 
When to use: To generate ideas after the creative matrix or some other method.
 
Faculty members also all learn and leverage their top five strengths from the Gallup StrengthsFinder tool. It’s useful in building teams and finding complementary partners. We share our strengths and promote partnership and co-teaching with those who have diverse skills.
 
At a recent faculty professional development session, we designed three prototypes for one of our programs for all students called the Learning Hub Advisory. The program meets three days a week and focuses on supporting students’ social and emotional wellness and growth. This fall, we will move our advisory program to the end of the day three days a week. The new three 80-minute blocks will also allow for flexibility. Assemblies, clubs, and advisory will have a dedicated space. Students will stay with their advisors for three years. We also plan to use Classcraft, a role-playing game, to manage, motivate, and engage students.
 

How You Can Do It

Through these weekly professional development sessions, we expect to continue to redesign and improve the school experience. You can do the same. Here are six ideas to consider.
  1. Create a director of innovation and learning position, an interdisciplinary role that spearheads the organization and supports personalized professional development.
  2. Create creative space for collaboration, co-planning, and co-teaching for faculty reminiscent of a coffee shop.
  3. Design incentive programs that offer faculty innovation grants and fellowships with release time to partner with peers on WOOP goals.
  4. Design in-house edcamps for faculty. Spend a half-day at one of your in-service meetings with the faculty in charge of the learning.
  5. Use design-thinking methods to build empathy, be inclusive, and co-design your school with your faculty or solve problems in your community.
  6. Invite student voices into your professional development efforts — ask students to lead sessions about using social media, such as Twitter, or the latest and greatest apps that might aid in their learning.
If your school is not yet able to dedicate the collaborative planning time or release time for professional development, technology and blended learning approaches can be a good place to start. For example, on a recent in-service day we permitted and encouraged faculty to work remotely from any location. Using Google Apps for Education and online resources in our Learning Management System (Canvas), faculty had the day to complete a virtual scavenger hunt and share personalized findings and interests with the entire faculty. Our faculty members can also share key activities and learning in an ongoing, real-time basis by using our school hashtag, #HFAInnovates, on Twitter and Facebook.

We’re Stronger than Ever

We’re finding that giving faculty members ownership of their learning has created buy-in, excitement, and momentum for school initiatives. By focusing on self-empowerment, using methods such as WOOP goals, and lifting barriers to growth, the faculty can become nimble and entrepreneurial. Never before have these mindsets been as important to cultivate in our faculty and students as they are today.
 
I have seen firsthand how personalized professional development is transforming our culture. At an in-service day not long ago, some faculty members participated in tai chi in our Mandarin classroom. And recently after school, other faculty members were using the laser cutter for the first time to build custom-designed pieces for a maker showcase event at the end of the year. These wishes — part of their WOOP goals — have come true. It’s thrilling to see our teachers making such progress.

Cross-posted on the The Independent School Magazine Blog

Sunday, May 15, 2016

EdCampPGH at Pittsburgh Public Schools

This weekend was EdCampPGH, the last event I attended as part of Remake Learning Days in Pittsburgh. This was an inspiring and busy week catching up with friends across the learning ecosystem in Pittsburgh. Most importantly, this week reminded me that Pittsburgh is doing amazing things in the educational community and amazing educational leaders are passionate about the future of learning and education. After representing the Teachers Guild and Holy Family Academy at the Remake Learning Rally, I prepared for EdCampPGH. As one of the founders of EdCampPGH, almost four years ago, it was an honor and fulfilled our vision to be able to incude the event in Remake Learning Days. 




When we talked about where to host our next EdCampPGH, we wanted to have a focus on equity. We were glad that PPS (Pittsburgh Public Schools) SciTech agreed to host the event. EdCampPGH is part of a national movement lead by the EdCamp Foundation. EdCamp is a form of unconference designed specifically for teachers and their needs. What makes EdCamp an unconference you might ask? Unlike traditional conferences which have schedules set months in advance by the people running the conference,EdCamp has an agenda that's created by the participants at the start of the event. 

My co-organizer, Justin Aion summed up the day best: "My prime takeaway from morning sessions at #edcampPGH: humanity trumps content 10 times out of 10." Setting the tone for the day was Lori Delale-O'Connor from University of Pittsburgh, School of Education's Center for Urban Education. Lori asked us to think about whose voices are absent from our conversation and to be mindful of that when we plan for change, innovation and growth in schools. She also said: "Looking for gaps is only a way to be sure to perpetuate them— let’s look for building on assets not dwelling on deficits." With an amazing group of close to 100 teachers, administrators and learning partners in attendance, I believe they are focused on rethinking the deficient model and beginning with the positive qualities of the schools!

A series of robust sessions rounded on the day from topics that are typical such as EdTech to new topics such as LBGTQ issues in schools and parent engagement. It was also our first EdCampPGH that we had parents join. The team at Pittsburgh SciTech did a wonderful job getting the word out and leading the event. 

Check out some of the images from the day:








Join us this fall at Fox Chapel Area School District for our fall version of EdCampPGH and meet educators who are passionate about Remaking Learning in the Pittsburgh region. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Matter of Mindset

Image Source: In Search of Growth Leaders, WSJ 
The "growth mindset" has received increased attention in the last few years especially related to how schools can build this mindset in students. While this is important topic, most administrators and faculty may be unclear with how to get started. Shifting learning from teacher-centered to student-centered is one step in the right direction but much more is needed to shift student and faculty minds to the growth cycle. Administrators should help their school demonstrate the virtuous cycle of belief's and behaviors vs the vicious cycle that discourages growth thinking.

The vicious cycle in a classroom or school develops an environment where students and/or teachers view "life as a test" mixed with fear, avoidance and narrow thinking. With so much focus on testing in schools, its not hard to imagine why so many students are graduating high school with a fixed mindset. The ASCD (2010) said that students with a fixed mindset tend to not handle setbacks well because these setbacks call their intelligence into question and they become defensive. I know we have all taught that student. There is such joy in helping students move from this defensiveness and fear to a place where students can respond to obstacles, try new strategies to succeed and use all the resources at their disposal for learning. 


So why aren't more schools training teachers and focused on this very important element to student success? Furthermore, time and time again research and workforce development reporting shows us that plenty of jobs in the future will require workers with an "innovators DNA" which includes a growth mindset as a key ingredient. Schools and classrooms that succeed at building the growth mindset as part of school culture focus on learning being a journey, lifeline and put plans in place to support, seek and embrace change. Growth-focused schools and classrooms broaden students' thinking by creating opportunities for voice and choice in learning where building empathy is at the center of learning. Students are not simply memorizing facts and taking standardized tests. Students that are taught to have a fixed mindset may not be provided or overlook growth opportunities. Furthermore, faculty in fixed-mindset schools are slow to adopt changes that are needed to transform teaching and learning in the 21st century. So where does one start to break the pattern of the vicious cycle? Building culture. Building culture that embraces ambiguity, inquiry and diversity. 

Administrators have a responsibility to build a school culture that is focused on the virtuous cycle where both students are faculty have the skills to detect new growth opportunities, have a bias for action around change, learn to make "bets" and "fail fast." Administrators that support this type of culture building create schools where students and faculty often succeed more often in new situations. Building growth mindset into the culture of your school requires intentional strategy. Carol Dweck's research shows us that this vicious cycle stems from a static definition of self. Many students, particularly students of poverty and trauma may enter our classrooms with this static definition of self. 

A recent post on the popular blog Getting Smarter suggests tactics like flexible student groupings, passion-based project based learning (I like to use design thinking as the framework for this type of PBL), student-led conferences and opportunities for personalization. I would add building a strong advisory program with well-trained and staffed coaches. In my school we call this role a "learning coach." Students meet with their learning coach three days a week in an advisory where they learn their strengths, build trust and have the opportunity to loop with their learning coach for three years. In advisory sessions we call "learning hub" coaches support development of a student's personalized passion pathway as well as access to resources to support their social emotional needs and other social services challenges like mental health, drugs/alcohol and food scarcity. Innovative classroom teaching and curriculum isn't enough to build a culture of growth thinking in your school. Find out what your version of the learning hub is in your school. 

While putting supports in place to help students enter the virtuous cycle of thinking, we can't ignore faculty. Teachers must be on board with building culture if your school will be successful at building a positive culture. Some strategies for building growth-mindset in teachers are co-teaching, personalized PD and ability to take risks and be backed-up by administration. You might offer development programs that provide release time - like Google's 20% plan. Innovation fellows, grants, professional development and action research teams that use design thinking to identify and solve problems in your school. Something as simple of scheduling and classroom spaces can support developing a growth-focused culture. For example, at my school teachers have 4-6 hours a week for professional development and collaborative planning. This time is necessary because of our very project-based and interdisciplinary curricular program. Additionally, with exception of a few courses, all classes in my school are co-taught by teams of educators focused on thematic-based learning. Faculty as well as students write WOOP goals using the framework provided by the Character Lab

What ideas do you have to build a growth-focused culture in your school?

If you are at SXSWEdu - find me (@Learn21Tech). I would love to hear what you are doing in your school. If this topic interests you come see me and my colleagues for our panel, Culture by Design. 


Not at SXSWEdu? Read this excellent article from ASCD on Growth Mindset.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Culture By Design

Culture by Design at SXSWEdu - 3.7.16 

Design thinking has almost become a buzzword in progressive education, but what does ‘design’ as a manifesto actually benefit the culture and practice of educators? How does people-centered problem solving work out in the professional development of a staff? What role does design thinking play in brand strategy and strategic planning for schools? 

At SXSWEdu I'll be presenting with two of my #dtk12chat friends on a panel about using design to build school culture. Over the last seven years I've been a part of schools that have embraced people-centered problem solving and specifically design thinking practices to identify and solve school problems, innovate and grow new ideas and engage learners in ways that create student agency. At my current school, Holy Family Academy, where I am Head of School and Chief Learning Officer we have developed the best school schedule to support a culture of design. Students take 80 minute to 2.5 hours core classes such as "Integrated Design Lab," where they identify and solve community social justice problems and have opportunities to do learning walks and field observation/interviews weekly. We have a game design start-up company where students meet 6 hours every Tuesday and use design methods to build their company! Design is also woven into Cultural Literacy class (our joint humanities block) where students recently created persona profiles and stakeholder maps of WPA workers as they read literature and learned about the great depression. Design not only is practiced by students in my school but with the lead learners, the faculty. Our Director of Innovation leads our faculty every Friday morning, every week! Yes, I said every week. Our teachers get 75% percent more time for professional development than the average teacher. While students are off-campus weekly at partner organizations as part of our network campus program, faculty collaborate using design methods within their "teach and lead" sessions. Methods like Rose/Thorn/Bud, creative matrix, walk-a-mile and visualize the vote helps our faculty be a lean, mean and collaborative team! 

As we embark on developing a new strategic plan, design thinking will be the vehicle that drives our approach. Engaging in a series of design planning sessions with students, parents, the Board and our faculty/staff, we plan to create our next three year strategic plan. We envision using this approach of methods from the LUMA Institute System of Innovating for People: 
  1. Whats On Your Radar
  2. Stakeholder Mapping
  3. Persona Profiles (designed in advance to be used at design sessions)
  4. Creative Matrix
  5. Interviews/Learning Walks/Storyboarding 
  6. Visualize the Vote
  7. Bulls-Eye Diagram
  8. Concept Posters
We envision these methods will be used over the course of three months in a very collaborative process where we continue to build the culture of the school. 

Come learn more about how to use design thinking to build culture in schools next week at SXSWEdu. A link to our slides will be posted here as we refine them! We will have a live "tweetup" (#dtSXSWedu) for folks that can't attend in person as well as live prototyping of ideas you might bring back to your school. 

WHEN:
Monday, March 7
5:00PM - 6:00PM
Hilton Austin Downtown Salon G - See more at: http://schedule.sxswedu.com/events/event_PP47638#sthash.UNuq0Pq4.dpuf

Monday, February 15, 2016

Transforming Your School: 8 Critical Steps

Guiding change may be the ultimate test of a leader. It's an exciting time to be an educator with the amount of change coming our way. No organization, even schools, can survive if they don't consider how to re-invent themselves.

As a gift from a manager in one of my first leadership roles, I received John Kotter's 1996 book  "Leading Change." This book has traveled to every new role as a staple on my book shelf. Kotter discusses eight critical success factors that leaders need to utilize if change and growth is to occur in your organization. This book wasn't written for educational leaders yet many of the strategies and all of the eight success factors can support change in schools. Kotter suggests that skipping any of these eight success factors creates an illusion of speed and never produces a satisfying result.

So, how can school leaders navigating the waters of change using Kotter's model? Let's look at each of the eight steps below:


  1. Establishing a sense of urgency: Schools should do "competitive analysis," paying attention to what's happening around them and the reality of how key stakeholders feel about the school. What do parents think, the board, the faculty themselves? This is especially important for independent schools where micro-schools like AltSchool and innovative programs like Acton Academy are developing. Schools should also regularly conduct community-driven meetings where SWOT Analysis and design charrettes can provide insight. School leaders may need to pierce through the denial that change may be needed and develop a sense of urgency among faculty and staff. This is a delicate process that needs to be handled with empathy, support and resources.
  2. Forming a powerful guiding coalition. Schools are great at forming committees, however they are often made up of the same people. Consider the diversity of your committee and include all stakeholders. I suggest designing committees after a small core team utilizes the design method from the LUMA Institute, "Stakeholder Mapping."  At my last school I formed a "Council on Innovation," made up of current and former parents, leading higher education researchers and educators and current faculty and staff at the school. This high-power group provided specific and actionable guiding steps for the school. 
  3. Creating a vision. Don't be one of 'those schools' that has a mission/vision statement that is only in a book or on a website. Design it together. Form community along the way. Hold participatory design sessions with students and faculty alike. Visioning is a regular activity, not a one time activity. Change initiatives should have a vision and actionable tasks attached to them. Without this critical step, faculty and staff will feel like they are on a perpetual treadmill where they have been talking for years about the same change initiatives. 
  4. Communicating the vision. It's important to share vision across the school network through multiple channels. From vinyl signs across campus, to social media marketing and even a twitter hash tag, building shared language and understanding is key.Perhaps starting every faculty meeting with an update of progress or status update or even better yet, create a flipped learning video to send to multiple constituents. For example, let's say your vision is "equipping students with the right stuff to make it," how do you plan to do that? What does it look like? What words, signs and symbols support the vision. Being sure everyone is on the same page with the vision develops shared understanding and likelihood of success. 
  5. Empowering others to act on the vision. This one is so critical. How many initiatives in schools fail because barriers were not removed or resources were not in place? If you want to create a more student-centered school, what systems are in place that will block the vision? Change them, remove the barrier and the idea will have a higher likelihood to succeed. Encourage taking calculated risks among faculty by offering peer mentoring, co-teaching, or innovation grants. Another idea developed at my last school is the Innovation Fellows model. After applying and joining a two-year commitment, innovation fellows were key peer mentors that helped to spread and support the vision to shift learning in grades 5-12 to be more active and constructionist. The school community began to flourish and adopt the vision with this support in place. Schools can also form PLNs - personal learning networks, where teachers get release time to meet and plan with the PLN. Last but not least, how are you empowering students to act on the vision? At my last school we formed the student "geek squad" to help others learn to use technology in innovative ways. This student run genius bar allowed students to develop leadership skills and student agency to come alive.
  6. Planning for and creating short-term wins. Celebrate small wins and seek out "low hanging fruit" that support your vision. Develop logic models and metrics. This will be key to gaining renewed support from the board, foundations or other major donors. Communicate results to parents, the board and even to students.Developing community around these wins is the perfect opportunity to get slower adopters and wary parents on-board with the vision. Let faculty share their wins at faculty meetings, parent coffees, get and give them recognition for their hard work. 
  7. Consolidating improvements and producing even still more change. Consider conducting research studies both internally and with university partners to show the success of a pilot program. Many innovative teaching and learning methods, for example, show minor content gains - yet the gains in "soft skills" are often profound. A standardized assessment will not show key stakeholders these gains. Gather a team of teachers and administrators that are high-performers and give them the task of conducting action research as a professional growth opportunity. Send them to conferences to share what they learned, let them hold Google Hangouts as a form of outreach and ask them how to spread the pilot programs in bigger and deeper ways at your school. Learning walks, school visits and instructional rounds can also support the development of your transformation initiatives. Act on their suggestions and enter into the growth spiral that changes culture. 
  8. Institutionalizing new approaches. Benchmark your success against metrics and present dashboards regularly to key stakeholders that can spread your program or change initiative. Seek funding with your newly acquired data set or expand a program across the domains. If you launched an initiative around using human-centered design at your school, for example, spread it from being used in one class to being used across the entire school for decision-making. Make the shared language behind design everyday language at your school. Put funding, team structure and resources behind the approach to help it grow beyond a pilot program to a part of your everyday culture. Administrators that don't back these approaches in real and sustainable ways will doom the initiative and potential for long-term transformation at your school. Evaluate and constantly be looking to iterate programs and processes to continue to grow.
Setting the stage to transform your school requires a willingness to "roll up your sleeve and get messy." Some of us enjoy this process and like to get down to work. Administrators must know how to build empathy for multiple stakeholders when identifying and creating action around areas for change. Careful listening and being humble with self-reflection will serve school leaders well. In addition to paying attention to John Kotter's eight critical success factors, we must also be open to new ideas, have a growth-mindset and sell the need for change. Empowering others to be the architects behind school transformation will separate schools of the future from the schools who will be left behind.