Podcast: Getting Smart on the Innovation Opportunity

Innovation Opportunity

We are all trying to make sense of the health, economic and education crisis we’re all experiencing. The American economy was been shut down throwing half of the workforce out of work and the other half into a frenzy of new and potentially dangerous routines.

As the economy slowing reopens and schools wrap up remote learning for the 2019-20 school year, we’ve been participating in dialogs with educators from around the country–around the world in fact–about what’s next. Torn between the complications of planning for next year and the sense of new possibility, we’re trying to stay hopeful.

Hope is holding a creative tension between what is and what could and should be, each day doing something to narrow the distance between the two. —Parker J. Palmer

In this episode, Tom and Rebecca outline the new infrastructure for different modalities of school in the fall and wrap up with some of the innovation opportunities.

The New Infrastructure

There are 4 decisions that need to be made in the 90 days to deliver continuity of quality learning:  

  • Blend the core academic program. If you don’t have one, pick a learning management system to manage tasks and assessments whether at school or at home. Add collaboration communication tools as needed. Update faculty agreements on blended learning protocols.
  • Update your remote strategy. Some and occasionally all learners may learning at home next year so make sure everyone has a device and do your best to improve access to broadband (provider discounts, take home hotspots, community partnerships).
  • Build a social distanced onsite solution. With a combination of time- and place- shifting be ready to practice social distancing at school in the fall. Prepare for testing and tracking and tracing and lots of hygiene.
  • Start or partner with an online school. Some learners and teachers will need or want a full-time online solution that can be delivered at home or in a hybrid model (2 or 3 days a week at school or in a cooperative learning setting).

Leaning into the Innovation Opportunity

Three of the opportunities of this crisis include:

  • Thriving Humans: Social and emotional learning (SEL) including self-awareness, self-management, and the ability to relate to and work with others. Students want to be seen, heard and valued more than ever. This means putting SEL at the front and center of learning
  • Work that Matters: More interest-based learning and chances to do work that matters to students and their community. That means more project-based learning (PBL).
  • Meeting Learners Where They Are: Students will come to school with big gaps, some ahead, most behind. Rather than advancing everyone into the next grade level content, there is a chance to meet learners where they are. There is also an opportunity to help high school students develop new forms of evidence that help them pursue post-secondary plans. Many call this competency-based education (CBE).

These three opportunities–SEL, PBL, CBE–can be incorporated into plans for learning at school and at home this call. It’s a chance to develop schools that are more humane, that equip young people to thrive and build a sense of agency about their ability to act on the world and make a difference in the life of their family and their community.

Key Takeaways:
[2:11] Tom and Rebecca acknowledge the struggles that have come along with the current pandemic.
[3:08] Tom reads a relevant and inspiring Parker Palmer quote.
[4:05] Tom and Rebecca outline what they will be covering in today’s episode.
[4:55] Tom and Rebecca give their thoughts on the currently available learning platforms and blending your core academic program.
[7:45] Tom and Rebecca discuss the gap regarding competency platforms.
[8:25] The good news and the bad news.
[8:41] Challenges in the fall and the upcoming need for schools to update their remote strategy.
[9:40] The importance of access and what that means.
[10:57] Tom and Rebecca discuss what the new look of schools may look like, once they reopen.
[13:28] Tom and Rebecca explain the importance of deeply considering starting or partnering with a remote school in your district.
[16:50] Tom summarizes the four key basic infrastructure pieces that they encourage schools and district leaders to think about.
[17:17] Switching gears, Tom and Rebecca transition to the second topic of today’s episode: the three distinct, important innovation opportunities that can be approached in the coming year.
[17:38] #1: Thriving humans: important success skills. Rebecca describes what they are and how we develop them.
[18:53] Jessica shares an important resource with listeners: the Getting Through microsite.
[19:31] Rebecca speaks about agency and how educators can help learners develop it.
[20:08] Rebecca highlights some of the specific ways that educators can incorporate agency and social-emotional learning more fully into the culture of a school. She also speaks about what ‘teach-again learning’ looks like inside of a school.
[21:24] Tom and Rebecca discuss how if a school or district does not have a broad definition of what success looks like, that it is now the time to do.
[22:55] Rebecca suggests some next steps to take, regarding developing report cards, transcripts, and helping learners tell their stories.
[24:38] #2: Work that matters. Rebecca shares some examples of what interspace learning looks like.
[25:08] How educators can go into the fall by incorporating more interspace learning and be more artful about adding more voice and choice while simultaneously packing projects with important skills?
[27:35] Tom and Rebecca highlight how to take a space towards work that matters, no matter your role.
[28:18] Rebecca outlines the opportunity this fall to better meet learners where they are.
[30:25] Rebecca shares how we can learn more into competency-based structures and learning come this fall.
[33:50] Tom and Rebecca summarize what they discussed in today’s episode.
[35:07] Jessica thanks the teachers and leaders once again for all that they do and gives some recommendations for further listening and guidance.

Mentioned in This Episode:
Rebecca Midles
Parker Palmer
Google Classroom
G Suite
Microsoft Classroom
Microsoft Teams
Canvas by Instructure
Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School
Portrait of a Graduate
Lindsay Unified
Getting Smart Podcast Ep. 250: “Tom Rooney and Scott Rowe: Buildings Are Closing, Learning Goes On!”
Getting Smart Podcast Ep. 255: “Dan Gohl on Leading in Crisis”

For more see:

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Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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