Outside consultantThis fall I started working with the Mattoon (Illinois) Community Schools. They are doing some really important transformational work for such a small district, including significant investments in

  1. students’ leadership capacity through The Leader in Me framework;
  2. competency-based education and student progressions;
  3. deeper learning modalities in their schools, classrooms, and external partnerships; and
  4. career and technical education through their upcoming, multi-school district, regional innovation hub, LIFT.

The gods in charge of airport travel smiled upon me this pandemic week, which meant that I had the pleasure of spending Monday in person with teachers, coaches, administrators, school board members, and families in Mattoon. Here’s what my schedule looked like:

  • Workshop 1 (all teachers and administrators) = reconciling competency-based education and deeper learning
  • Workshop 2 (leadership teams) = leadership challenges related to deeper learning
  • Workshop 3 (elementary teachers / instructional coaches) = redesigning elementary lessons for deeper learning
  • Workshop 4 (secondary teachers / instructional coaches) = redesigning secondary lessons for deeper learning
  • Workshop 5 (families and community members) = evening conversation on why school might look a little different these days

It was a long but important, productive, and incredibly fulfilling day. We made some great progress on Monday and I am looking forward to our continued work together this spring. These long-term partnerships are where the magic happens!

Which brings me to the title of this blog post…

Schools, are you putting your outside helpers to work? I see so many one-and-done keynotes or workshops. We know that they don’t really make a difference, right? Sure, it’s nice to get uplifted for 90 minutes about the importance and value of our teaching and leadership work. And, yes, we can get a taste of something helpful in an hour or so. But long-term transformations don’t stem from short-term engagements. If you don’t have the time, inclination, or budget for a longer-term engagement with someone whom you think can help you, at least insist on more of their time during the day that they’re with you. Why would you ask them to only spend an hour or two with your educators and community? Ask your outside helpers to focus deeply on the WHAT and the HOW, not just the WHY, and have a follow-up plan for implementation and support of your educators that goes beyond wishful thinking: “We heard about this for an hour at our district kick-off meeting so go off and do this now at a high level.” Anything less seems like you’re just wasting time, energy, attention, and money? Maybe you have an overabundance of those in your school organization but I’m guessing not…

Want to learn more about the work I’m doing with Mattoon and others? Please don’t hesitate to reach out!