SHIFTING FROM SILOED PROGRAMS TO INTEGRATED APPROACHES
Strategies for promoting greater coherence are more likely to succeed -- and produce significantly better outcomes for students and families -- if they seek to address the following three areas.
CULTIVATING A SHARED PURPOSE
Scratch below the surface among a group of people engaged in educational improvement and you will likely find a lack of agreement about what they are working toward. Though we use the same words in talking about goals and strategies, the images they conjure in our heads often bear significant differences. This produces a multitude of often conflicting practices and priorities.
Instead of assuming everyone is on the same page, deliberate attempts must be made to forge a shared understanding about what students need most from their time in our education system. To do this we should focus on the following areas:
Co-creating a Collective Vision
Embedding Equity as Core to Systems Change
CO-CREATING INCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENTS
Any strategy to improve education has consequences that reverberate throughout the system and implications for the individuals within the system. If policies and programs are developed in a bubble—devoid of people who are most directly affected and can bring varied points of view—any aspiring solution to a systems-level issue will inevitably fall short.
Fostering inclusive environments means delving into one’s own beliefs, taking the time to understand others’ experiences, and shifting power structures so that those most affected by education policies and programs have a direct platform not only to share their perspective, but also to have a voice in the decisions that are made. Therefore, we should intentionally focus on:
Understanding the Self: Using practices that enable deep reflection and dialogue
Understanding Multiple Perspectives: Understanding the circumstances and lived experiences of the various actors in the system
Shifting Structures and Power Dynamics: Increasing agency through principles of distributed leadership
BUILDING CAPACITY THAT IS RESPONSIVE TO CHANGE
The one constant that we can count on within a system is change: Teachers leave the classroom; principals and superintendents leave their schools or districts; leadership within organizations isn’t always stable; and political transitions are an inevitability. We need to acknowledge and embrace the dynamic nature of the system and create the infrastructure, processes, and capacity to adapt to the ever-changing conditions of the system.
By focusing on the following areas we can help build the collective capacity of the system to improve—even in the face of constant shocks and stressors to the system—and continue to move towards more equitable outcomes for all students:
Building Trust and Relationships
Trying New Things and Iterating Towards Success