Over the past several years working with Inflexion, I’ve observed how immensely valuable it is to school leadership teams to simply take a pause, step back, and gain new perspectives and insights. The day-to-day school environment can be so chaotic that leaders aren’t able to quiet the noise and breathe, be bold, and dream.
Through our work with school leadership teams, we try to create space to allow educational leaders to come together with others to apply different lenses to the competing priorities for their time and resources, maximizing their ability to jump back into daily life equipped with tools, ideas, values, and focus.
Below are three examples of how we’ve seen this happen:
Reviewing Syllabi for the Advanced Placement (AP) Course Audit
Each year, postsecondary faculty review every syllabus submitted for the AP Course Audit, and either authorize the course or provide feedback to secondary faculty about their syllabus. Since 2007, Inflexion has facilitated this process and our reviewers have rated teacher syllabi for more than 1.25 million authorized AP courses across 42 subjects in 22,000 schools worldwide. Over the years, we have heard time and again from postsecondary and secondary instructors that the opportunity to have dialog between the two levels about curriculum has provided new insights and allowed them to reflect on what students need to know and be able to do to succeed in a postsecondary environment.
“As a college professor, I see it as a form of professional development… it gives me a window into what current classroom teachers are doing, and it also gives me a useful intellectual perspective from which to assess any teaching situation.”
Analysing Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats in Merced Union High School District
In 2016 and 2017, Inflexion had the opportunity to spend time with teachers, counselors, and district staff in Merced Union High School District to deeply analyse three areas of programming districtwide: Career and Technical Education, Counseling, and Advanced Placement Courses. It was amazing to see stakeholders from across the district and community taking time out of their busy schedules, strategizing, bringing their different perspectives, even disagreeing, but always sharing a common goal—strengthening their programs.
Supporting School Leaders as They Implement California’s Multi-tiered System of Support Framework
During 2017 and 2018, we have had the opportunity to work and learn alongside many passionate leaders who are committed to preparing all students to be ready for their futures. During the process, leadership teams step back from the day-to-day stress to inventory what they are currently doing to support student learning on their campus and to assess the systems they currently have (or do not yet have in place) in order to support every student’s learning needs. Teams are often amazed to see how much they are already doing through a new lens, but what they find is often missing is a clear vision or set of outcomes for how their are preparing students to be ready for life once they leave high school.
In architecture, the Japanese principle of ma describes the space between structural elements that can be more meaningful than the elements themselves. At Inflexion, we believe that the structures in place in schools and districts are crucial to support learning outcomes for all students, and like in architecture the negative space between these structures is an essential component of creating a meaningful and intentional structure. It is important that we remember our school staff and leadership teams need this space to get a breath of fresh air and step outside their own walls to connect their motivations and local context to a desired future state both for the school and the broader community. The space enables individuals to let their guard down and be real about where they are, be bold and dream about where they want to go, and be practical about how to get there.