By Michael B. Horn
In education reform, the focus is often on the sexy idea-of-the-day—the vision that lights donors up and causes them to give, that can grab headlines, that can give policymakers a political win. All too often we—thought leaders, foundations, policymakers, and, yes, some educators—forget about the real work that has to happen to put these things into action. The actual operations.
Giving short shrift to supporting organizations in implementing ideas—the day-to-day actions and tactics they must take—has created a huge chasm between great ideas and successful execution, one in which educators deservedly cry out for more support and ideas. It’s one of the reasons educators collectively roll their eyes when yet another education idea comes out and assume that it, too, shall ultimately be a fad.
This is what makes Anthony Kim and Alexis Gonzales-Black’s new book, The NEW School Rules: 6 Vital Practices for Thriving and Responsive Schools, such a refreshing read and vital contribution. The book focuses on how to help district and school leaders improve their organizational practices to create environments “of growth, excitement, and passion” that ultimately produce breakthrough gains for students.
I continue to worry that this is a formula for (unintentionally!) denying students who start school behind the opportunity to engage with their peers on “the good stuff” – the content that will enliven their imaginations and unlock the shared vocabulary they will make them lifelong learners. Hope you’re following the Knowledge Matters School Tour, Micheal!
I’m loving the work you’re doing and appreciate you doing the school tour! Super super helpful. I’m not clear what you’re worried about is blocking content specifically with this particular approach to helping a school operate better? An argument in the book is that by doing the operations/planning, etc. better it should free up more time for focus on content.