Getting improvement efforts right takes time and collaboration. Or at least, that is what we are learning from partners and leaders in our Networks for School Improvement (NSI). Writing in a recent issue of The Learning Professional, published by Learning Forward, they provide detailed insights into the promise and challenge of applying improvement science in schools.
The overwhelming lesson of these essays is that one-size-fits-all rarely fits anyone well. Understanding context is essential to making meaningful, systemic change stick. NSI leaders and educators have learned how to identify, implement, and monitor changes based on data and make adjustments to achieve greater impact.
Still, there are common themes that emerge from disparate contexts. As my colleague Vivian Mihalakis reflected in the journal, the most effective solutions combine academic research with educators’ direct experience in the classroom. To be realized, research findings must be married with the wisdom and expertise of educators who know their students’ talents, interests, and needs. And educators must act in concert; from centering equity in their work to elevating teacher leadership and student voice, NSI's impact resides in collective action and shared learning of teachers and administrators alike.
How can you apply these lessons to your own school or district? To accompany the volume, Learning Forward has created a discussion guide so educators can delve into applying NSI’s lessons and insights to their own context, building on the lessons of others and making them thrive in their own district. Indeed, as we continue to face unprecedented challenges in COVID’s aftermath, and the continuing systemic challenges created by poverty, we must continue to learn from one another. The old adage—many hands make light work (thanks, Grandma Hughes)—has never been truer. And a much bigger thanks to all who have shared their own experiences and insights. We are in this together.
Director, K-12 Education
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