10 Things Superintendents Should Do Now

I spent the day with a group of Ohio superintendents this week.  Here’s a list of ten projects we discussed for fall 2014.

  1. Start a community conversation about what graduates should know and be able to do; pay attention to career readiness skills and dispositions; express new learning goals. (See Summit’s readiness indicators.)
  2. Encourage deeper learning and writing across the curriculum with challenging writing prompts and useful teacher resources. (See feature on Literacy Design Collaborative.)
  3. Plan the shift to next gen learning in 3 phases over the next 3 years. Pick a strategy that makes sense for your district, then consider school models, platform and content, devices, staffing and staff development. (See Blended Learning Implementation Guide.)
  4. Expand student options with online learning. Shift most advanced placement courses online and offer all 34– you’ll save money and boost options. Expand world language offerings K-12 starting with high school.  For the course you can enroll 200 students, use your own staff.  For lower enrollment courses, use a partner.
  5. Open flex academies that combine online learning with onsite support in every high school to serve students way behind, way ahead, and/or interested in a theme (e.g., global studies, performing arts, manufacturing).
  6. Incorporate adaptive learning K-8 using a lab or classroom rotation model (depending on the software you choose the the number and type of devices you have).
  7. Encourage maker, coding, DIY, work-based learning, and other active explorations with an expedition unit every eight weeks.  Hold a science fair every year.
  8. Transform special education with new tools and online learning. (See 5 Ways New Tools & Schools are Transforming Special Education.)
  9. Work with employee groups on staffing and development plans that anticipate new roles and relationships. Study OpportunityCulture.
  10. Listen hard and communicate clearly with staff and community members about the intent, the goals, and the process. Communicate twice as much as you think you need to in person and using social media.

Also see The 10 Questions Every Superintendent Needs to Answer and 10 Entry Points

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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