Factors of Great Schools Applied to a 1-to-Global Program (NAIS AC Notes Part 2)


As I reviewed my notes from Jim Collins keynote at the 2013 NAIS Annual Conference and thought about Pat Bassett’s 25 Factors that Great Schools Have in Common, I started thinking about which of these 25 factors were the most closely connected to the success of a 1-to-1 or 1-to-World (Alan November) or 1-to-Global (Providence Day School’s adaptation) program. Below are the factors that I found to impact my planning and implementation of our 1-to-Global program. Below each one is why I selected them. Please note that the numbers match the order from Pat Bassett’s original list.

1. Create and perpetuate an intentional culture shaped by the adults, rooted in universal values of honesty and caring, and relentlessly oriented toward achievement.

The focus must never shift away from the original intent which has to be the creation of the best possible learning environment. The criteria used to define “best possible” may be different from school to school, but the you must be vigilant to ensure that all of the logistics and organization that goes with implementing 1-to-Global does not shift your intention from best possible learning space to easiest to manage 1-to-Global program. This sounds so obvious and is in many ways. However, the day to day realities often distract us from our intention. 

2. Eclectically capitalize on the best ideas about what works in schools, those gleaned from the past as well as those deemed best for the future.

How do we capture and share the best ideas that are generated by teachers using new tools to build new learning models? It is imperative to select and share models that reflect the intention of our programs. This is the work of school leaders who will need to carefully cultivate the space for risk-taking, challenge tackling, and lesson learning from failure. 

3. Manifest a coherent philosophy of learning for students, be it constructivist, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, Montessori, strengths-based, progressive, traditional, 1:1, or whatever — so long as it remains open to ongoing discussion, testing, and constant refinement.

Can our faculty, staff, and school leaders consistently share why we are moving to 1-to-Global? Have we shared the intention of our program in a way that resonates with our community? Has our community been engaged in shaping and helping to select our philosophy? 

4. Make a substantial commitment to professional development for faculty, expecting teachers to grow as learners themselves and to develop mastery in the art and science of teaching.

The introduction of a 1-to-Global program is a wonderful opportunity to create a chance for faculty to reflect on their instructional practices and goals. Professional development does not need to be sending crowds of faculty to summer iPad boot camps -although you need some faculty to go out into the world and bring back new ideas. IT can simply be bring together cross divisional, cross departmental groups to discuss learning. Insert brain research, personal learning networks, and exposure to thought leaders like Gardner, November, Wormeli, etc. into these conversations and let them work to discuss learning objectives of the students. As the conversation slows, ask your faculty to consider how the tools of your 1-to-Global program will help you achieve your new ideas/goals. 

6. Adopt a big vision, one that continually refreshes itself in order to sustain the enterprise along the five most strategic continua: demographic, environmental, global, financial, and programmatic.

The 1-to-Global program must be connected to your big vision. It is my opinion that simply being 1-to-1 or 1-to-Global is woefully insufficient. The program must be tied to something significant and meaningful. The big vision is the guiding principle of our intentionality. 

13. Redefine the ideal classroom setting as one of intimate environment, not small classes, since the former can occur in schools or classes of any size and even online, and the latter can miss the point of intimacy.

How can technology which is often associated with cold, inpersonal communication be used to create intimacy? Only with intention and deliberate curricular choices that spiral throughout all classrooms. Role playing and discussing hypothetical situations may help your community find ideas and solutions. 

14. Create a financially sustainable future by means other than persistently large annual tuition increases, recognizing that being the best value, rather than the highest price in town, offers the strongest value proposition.

I cannot envision a school that would embark upon a 1-to-Global program without sufficient financial planning to sustain the program, but how do we create fiscal solutions that sustain but also allow for flexibility? 

19. Track student outcomes over time, beyond the years in one’s own school, seeking data on how well the school prepared its students for the next legs of their life journeys — be it the next levels of education or life beyond.

How do we measure the outcomes of adding tools into our learning spaces? Often it wil not be grades or test scores that share the significance of the inclusion of these learning instruments. Look for the stories, models, and examples that demonstrate student centered, active, and engaged learning (insert your own intentions and objectives here). 

20. Seek data to make data-rich (not opinion-rich) decisions, embracing former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings’s observation, “In God we trust; all others, bring data.”

Where do we find compelling and significant data? Look to examples like Chris Bigenho’s SALT survey to find ways to generate the data needed, but also understand that Chris’s example shows that we may need to create new tools to our new purpose. 

21. To avoid unnecessary distractions, educate the board and parents thoroughly about how schools work, and about what student and parent needs a school can and cannot meet.

Routine conversations with the Board and parents about the changes in education and parenting in a digital age are necessary to support the instructional objectives of your program. Neglecting this conversation will impede your progress. 

22. Market their schools with “sticky messages” that tell a compelling story.

Do you have the means and practices in place that enable you to share your successes? If not, how do you help build a consistent and coherent story that shares your successes?

23. Know their priorities when making difficult decisions, ranking first “what’s best for the school,” then “what’s best for the student,” then “what’s best for all other interests.”

Knowing your priorities is key to helping school leaders like grade level heads, department chairs, dean of students, admissions, etc. see the big picture and stay focused on why the success of your 1-to-Global program is the same as the success of your school. 

Please understand that the purpose of this post is entice others into sharing their thoughts, ideas, and successes with their planning and implementing 1-to-1 or 1-to-Global programs.

One response »

  1. Pingback: The Daily Find: March 22, 2013 | NAIS Annual Conference 2013

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