Why Not Now?!
As the pandemic wreaks havoc on communities, everyone is on edge. There’s never been a more difficult time for educators, and we’re deeply grateful for your heroic efforts.
Amidst this disruption, it’s tempting to take a “let’s just get through this” mindset. After all, many already call this a ‘lost year.’ But in this upside-down education world, there’s never been a better time to innovate — in small ways, and big.
For those ready to pounce, we offer a mosaic of learning innovations, organized with a powerful change model that:
- Rallies your community to an aspirational vision of what school could be
- Supports teacher-led innovation that elevates learning and life outcomes.
You entered the profession dreaming of schools that engage and inspire students, that prepare them for life. With the door to change wide open, don’t settle. Barge through. Why not now?!
Ready to unleash potential, together?
Join the What School Could Be Community!
Our What School Could Be initiative is a community-powered platform that — we immodestly claim — is the best professional development ever offered to educators. Based on your great work in the field, its confidence-building steps will unleash student — and teacher — potential. Check out the short video overview and join our fast growing community now! Also available on iOS and Android.
The Spark of Small Steps
Change can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Real change starts with a bias for action. Small steps that build confidence and spark big change.
This site helps you transform learning. It offers a mosaic of small steps you can try tomorrow. Explore a few (e.g., Curiosity Time, Genius Time) — each inspired by remarkable educators in the field, and brought to life with compelling video. With minimal downside and profound upside, your faculty’s innovation success will spread . . . and stick.
This Innovation Playlist channels small steps into big community-embraced progress. This powerful change model is described below by the remarkable Sir Ken Robinson. To gauge its scope, explore some ‘big change’ albums (e.g., Mobilize Your Community, Student-Driven Learning), their on-ramp steps, and this Illustrative Use Case.
Welcome to the Innovation Playlist
The Innovation Playlist helps you mobilize your community to embrace change and build consensus on your North Star. Then, it empowers teachers to lead the way, innovate in their own creative ways, and hone expertise through shared success. This powerful change model comprises small uplifting steps to big changes that elevate learning and life outcomes.
Educators have endured endless top-down edicts that they have no voice in, and don’t believe in. This model stands in stark contrast. It helps you set the conditions that empower joyful, purpose-filled learning. It trusts teachers. It’s based on what’s proven effective in the field. So get started . . . today!
Explore the Playlists
Drawing on Best Practices
Innovation expert Ted Dintersmith spent an entire school year on a most unusual education trip. He went to all 50 states, visited 200 schools, and convened 1,000 community forums and meetings. He set out to raise awareness about the urgent need to reimagine education to prepare students for the career and citizenship demands of an increasingly-innovative world.
But as he traveled, Dintersmith met innovative teachers all across the country — teachers doing extraordinary things in ordinary settings, creating classrooms where children learn deeply and joyously. Students engaged and inspired by teachers who help children develop purpose, agency, essential skill sets and mindsets, and deep knowledge. The insights of these teachers offer a vision of what school could be, and a model for how schools can achieve it.
In The Field
Already, the Innovation Playlist is catalyzing change in the field. Not just in a school, but across entire states. Consider Hawai’i, an emerging global education leader. Symbiotically, the Playlist features the work of many extraordinary educators in Hawai’i, while supporting informed learning transformations in classrooms and schools across the islands. Innovation is contagious and success begets success.
Led by Josh Reppun, a team in Hawai’i produced this great film titled, appropriately, The Innovation Playlist. It will inspire you, bring the Playlist to life, and show what’s possible when educators are trusted to transform learning experiences, with a bit of support.
Resting on Core Beliefs
Machine intelligence is racing ahead, completely changing the competencies needed for fulfilling careers and responsible citizenship. Our children will be adults in a world that values higher-order competencies — critical thinking, creativity, audacity, collaboration, the ability to leverage resources. Yet these very competencies are undermined by data-driven education policies resting on a model designed brilliantly . . . over a century ago . . . to prepare kids for the industrial era. That era is long gone, and we need to re-imagine school to prepare kids for their futures, not our pasts.
Each child has distinctive interests, talents, and potential. Toddlers are curious, creative, bold, and willing to stare down failure – essential traits for adults in our dynamic, innovation-driven world. But by high school, these traits have largely disappeared from most students, in most schools. This isn’t the fault of our teachers; it’s inherent in the system’s design. It’s collateral damage from a relentless focus on ranking students (and their educators) with high-stakes standardized tests of low-level capacities. This intense standardization robs America’s youth of the opportunity to go deep on what they care about, to build distinctive competencies, and to create differentiated paths forward – the very things that enable them to blossom into purposeful, contributing members of society.
America has spent decades seeking to improve education through data-driven policies, with the hollow goal of increasing aggregate test scores and closing a test-score ‘achievement’ gap. After massive amounts of time and money, we have little to show for it, other than ill-prepared students and demotivated teachers. We hold educators accountable to measures they have no voice in, don’t believe in, and that differentially penalize educators working with our most challenged students. In chasing higher test scores, we impair — not prepare — kids for their futures, and lose all touch with school’s true purpose.
There is deep expertise in the classrooms and schools across America. We need to listen to, and learn from, educators in the field. We need to support them in creating learning environments that help students develop essential competencies. We need to trust educators to develop authentic accountability frameworks. For decades, we’ve piled more and more demands on teachers, with declining levels of trust, respect, and financial support. And now, the pandemic has turned steady erosion into an avalanche of mistreatment — jeopardizing the future of our schools, our children, and our nation.
Our Declaration of Independence promises every American the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That promise is empty unless every child in America has access to a world-class K-12 education that launches them into a life of dignity and freedom. We may be polarized as a country, but most agree that our education system shouldn’t perpetuate centuries of racial injustice and income inequity. We can’t keep short-changing children who need the most support, while affluent kids receive excellent early childhood care, attend well-funded K12 schools, and dominate enrollments at selective four-year college. We need education priorities that give every child in America a fair shot at the ‘pursuit of happiness.’
Thomas Jefferson forewarned that education is the foundation of our democracy. Today, America’s democracy is in peril. Catchy slogans and more testing won’t produce the education transformation that we need. But if we bring urgency to restructuring funding models and vision to re-imagining learning experiences, we can elevate the futures of millions of children, thousands of communities, and our nation. We can’t wait for policymakers to offer sensible priorities or inspiring vision. We the people must change the system – not next decade, not next year, but now. Our educators know what to do, and our communities need to support them. The stakes couldn’t be higher — the very future of our democracy hangs in the balance.
With Humility and Respect
This isn’t about us. It’s about you. We work hard to listen to and learn from remarkable educators in the field. Our goal is to capture your insights in ways that help all educators and schools elevate student learning outcomes . . . and life trajectories. Credit amazing educators in the field for what’s good on this site. Attribute flaws to our small team. But please know we’re doing our best to capture your insights, and we’re oh-so-grateful that you fight so hard for the futures of our children, and our nation.