Learning

School leaders empower their teams to create a set of instructional practices, curricula, assessments, and learning experiences that put students at the center -- that engage learners deeply and meet their individual and collective needs.

Strategies For Success

Aims

Define the knowledge, skills and mindsets you aspire to help students develop, and tailor all programs to these outcomes.

Learning Model

Choose a learning model to best serve student outcomes.

Measurement

Measure learning outcomes and empower students, teachers, and administrators to make decisions guided by data.

Alignment

Align content, tools and spaces with your learning model and desired outcomes.

Aims

Reflection questions

  • Beyond the required curricula and standards, have you defined what skills and mindsets you especially want to develop in your students?
  • Is social and emotional learning sufficiently integrated into your curriculum and teaching?
  • What are you doing to encourage "the 4Cs" of collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking?
  • How can you help students be good digital citizens and leaders, role modeling for each other?

Learning Model

Reflection questions

  • How can your schools incorporate more student agency into learning experiences?
  • How can technology augment the work teachers do, and how can this help teachers shift to higher-value teaching approaches?
  • Has the district and school leadership communicated that teachers and staff have more time, space, and permission to try new ways of teaching and learning?
  • Do you have a plan for how you will rollout new learning approaches in the coming years? Have you communicated this to all stakeholders?

Measurement

Reflection questions

  • What actions does your team take to help students own their learning, be reflective, and take responsibility for improvement?
  • Have you assessed the success of the learning approach in your schools and do stakeholders agree with the findings?
  • Are teachers given time to review their curriculum and delivery approach (using feedback, observations, student input, etc.) and are they interpreting it to make changes?
  • Are educators using accurate data to inform instruction?

Alignment

Reflection questions

  • How well does your content (digital and physical) support your learning model and vision?
  • Are teachers, students, and administrators using technology when and where it makes sense?
  • How can you enhance the physical spaces of your schools to better support student learning?

Learning

Create a blueprint for teaching, learning, and assessment

Whether you are leading the learning and instruction team or planning your overall transformation, the steps and tools below can help.


Learning overview

1

Assemble Your Learning Team

Learning is at the heart of everything a district does. Therefore, while there may be one person responsible for curriculum & instruction, the team that will come together to deliver change must be much broader. It should include representatives for teachers, students, principals, parents, as well as specialists in curriculum and instruction. Students are especially important as they understand the learning experience in your schools, and are who you are designing change for.

  • reWork: Google’s research on effective teams
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  • Conduct a stakeholder analysis
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  • 2

    Align Learning Outcomes with Vision

    Review your overall vision for transforming your schools, and if you haven't set this vision yet, go to the planning section of the vision pillar. In planning for transforming the learning in your schools, your team should make the learning outcomes described in your vision more concrete. In addition to the knowledge you hope learners will master, pay particular attention to outlining the skills and mindsets you hope they will develop since these may benefit students most in the long run. Rather than considering specific content as the primary goal, it can be helpful to think of the content as merely a means to help learners build useful skills and productive mindsets.

  • Aligning curriculum and technology to improve outcomes
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    Ideas & Tactics

  • 3

    Investigate & Understand

    Before diving into your plans for how you want to transform learning in your schools, members of your team should investigate and understand the current learning environments and various options for how it could be transformed. In particular, team members should do the following:

    (a) Understand the current learning experience in schools. Reference your vision and desired student outcomes as you examine what is working well and what isn't.

    (b) Investigate a variety of learning models and discuss among your team which model or combination of models will best achieve your desired outcomes. It can be helpful to learn about other schools using different models.

    (c) Where possible, try to find relevant research to guide your decisions.

    Avoid the temptation to skip over this phase and go straight to planning. Taking time to investigate your current context and examine a variety of options going forward will help you make better plans and increase your likelihood of success.

  • Conduct a situation analysis
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  • 4

    Set Metrics & Goals

    Once you have decided on which learning outcomes you are going to prioritize, determine effective ways to measure the progress of your schools toward those outcomes. Assessment is more than standardized tests, which usually provide data too infrequently, don't offer actionable feedback, and may not be aligned with the outcomes that matter most. Assessment is about measuring what you care about and supporting a culture of continual learning and improvement. In addition to measuring students’ content knowledge, look for ways to assess students’ skills and mindsets. Formative assessments should be integrated with regular classroom activities and provide ongoing feedback about what is working and what isn’t.

    Once you have determined your metrics for success, set both short-term and long-term goals that are realistic and motivate your team to stretch in order to achieve them.

  • reWork: Google’s research on setting goals
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  • Set SMART goals
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    Identify actions and solutions

    You should now have a good understanding of where your schools are, and where you want them to be. In order to move between the two you need to do something— make decisions, take actions, and start new programs. This will include making decisions that prioritize content, tools, technology, and the design of physical spaces depending on how well they support your desired learning outcomes. The design thinking process can be a helpful way to leverage your entire team in generating fresh, effective solutions.

    Transforming the learning in your schools requires a holistic approach, so you will want to have teams simultaneously make plans in each of the other pillars: Professional Development, Community Engagement, Culture, Technology, and Funding and Sustainability. Check out the planning tab on each of these pillars.

  • Learn how to brainstorm effectively
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  • Design thinking toolkit for educators
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  • 6

    Make a plan

    Now that you have measureable goals and have identified actions to meet those goals, organize this information into a project plan to keep everyone on track. A project plan can help you visualize the entire process from beginning to end, work more effectively, and avoid unnecessary obstacles.

    You can put together a project plan in six steps.

    1. Write a project charter

    2. Identify your project requirements

    3. Break your project into key milestones

    4. Brainstorm all tasks and assign deadlines

    5. Assign a team member to each task

    6. Assess your risks

  • A guide to effective project planning
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  • Project planning template
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  • 7

    Launch & Iterate

    Equipped with a solid project plan, your team is ready to get to work transforming the learning at your schools! Encourage each team member to frequently reference the project plan and to keep it up to date as they accomplish tasks or run into obstacles. Monitor your progress using the project plan and through effective meetings. Don't forget to stay in touch with your stakeholders along the way.

    Transforming the learning in your schools is an ongoing process. Repeat this planning process periodically to make sure that your schools are continually improving. Don't forget to celebrate success along the way after key milestones!