A Message From Our Team
2022 was quite a year. It’s the year we attempted to get back to a “new normal.” All while the world continued to experience disasters, political uprisings, racial injustice, and the effects of climate change.
In the education field, many leaders and educators fought back when it came to returning to “normal.” Many of us knew the last 3 years of schooling in a pandemic, distance learning, and other factors should not be wasted. There was and still is an opportunity to do things differently and better so we can truly serve all learners well.
To better meet the demands of the education sector, to better reflect the communities we serve and to honor our commitment to equity, we grew our team by 20% – we are proud to be a diverse group of colleagues in California, Colorado, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. This holiday season we also donated to numerous organizations in our communities, including:
- Urgent Inc
- Discover U
- Evolve California
- FoCo Cafe
- World Central Kitchen
- Mentoring is a MUST
- Planned Parenthood
- First Nations
- Disability Rights Washington
- Literary Source
- Sacramento Punks with Lunch
- Camp Erin
We were able to impact hundreds of leaders through various partnerships. This work will, directly and indirectly, touch the lives of thousands of students this year alone, and hopefully millions in the years to come. Through system and learning design, professional learning and community building, strategic advisory, campaign and initiative development and communication and storytelling we’ve provided a combination of advisory and advocacy efforts to help create change, build impact and reimagine learning.
DEI & Advisory
We are committed to only working with organizations and leaders who share our equity commitments and developed a partner rubric this year to evaluate new partners. We also are continuing to improve our practice by sending out regular surveys to partners and using their feedback to reflect, create new processes, and celebrate success.
We are honored to have an active and dedicated Advisory Board at Getting Smart. Consisting of equity in learning advocates from across the nation, our monthly meetings help us to continue calibrating our work and ensuring equity for learning innovations.
The Getting Smart Team also established a DEI subcommittee consisting of a number of our team members. This committee measures and calibrates our work with partners, our internal systems and processes and is dedicated to never letting the equity statements fall short.
In 2021 we created a monthly-ish book club that prioritizes reading books that expand our world to new voices and experiences and/or provide the foundation for difficult and urgent conversations.
In 2022 we read the following books:
- Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
- Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
- The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare
- Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
- All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
- Deaf Republic: Poems by Ilya Kaminsky
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen
Getting Smart is a fully remote team with no formal office space. By maintaining this team make up, we are able to lessen our environmental footprint day in and day out.
That being said, due to our emphasis on school visits and the discovery of new schools, learning models and communities, we do travel far and often. To help us better offset this we joined Terrapass this year, an organization that purchases carbon offsets based on the total carbon footprint of a team monthly. We look forward to including this data in next year’s impact update, as this was an addition we made towards the end of 2022.
In 2021 we launched a new iteration of GettingSmart.com and have been increasing accessibility functionality as we explore new content types. We rolled out the implementation of both high contrast (dark mode) and text enlarge functionality.
We also recently launched a new publication about Unbundled Learning that emphasizes multimedia content to better accommodate different learning styles and preferences.
In 2022 we kicked off the New Pathways campaign, a robust exploration of how to help learners “experience success in what’s next.” Within this campaign, we are dedicated to exploring truly equitable options that help learners of all identities, communities, and abilities navigate the challenging purpose and employment landscape.
We had readers from all over the globe, in nearly every country.
We published hundreds of blogs this year, with an increased focus on spotlighting a more diverse pool of authors.
We published over 100 podcast episodes, with an increased percentage of guest diversity.
Pro Bono Work
We worked alongside 3 students from Immokalee, Florida whom we featured on the podcast to help them create a professional website to better spread the mission of their organization, Harvesting Housing. This engagement involved strategic advisory, website development, continued coaching on content development, and regular meetings with the students.
Additionally, across the team, we provided 100 hours of pro bono advising to non-profits and schools focused on equitable innovations work in this sector that were not in a position to hire consultants. We will continue to find ways to give back to our community of innovators through pro bono consulting projects in 2023.
To create and support an education ecosystem that empowers all learners to thrive.
Getting Smart is committed to holding anti-racism, inclusion and equity at the center of all of the work we do. We believe that the best ideas happen when diverse thinking leads to truly powerful and regenerative learning.
We acknowledge the long and continued history of systemic racism and colonialism in our country and education system. We also acknowledge the work that still needs to be done to create truly equitable communities where every individual has the same opportunity to succeed in and contribute to the world. Our team strives to support organizations in creating student-centered learning environments that are equitable for all regardless of zip code, race, ethnicity, gender, disability, socio-economic status, sexual orientation and learning differences.
We persist in our work to support school systems and learning organizations that elevate and amplify traditionally marginalized voices and identities. We advocate for policies that reduce barriers to access.
We will honor our commitment by growing and fostering a diverse staff, partnering with organizations also committed to racial equity, embedding equity in all strands of work, providing relevant programming where all participants feel welcome and engaging diverse perspectives and voices for our blog and community.
Justice and stewardship of our planet are a core piece of our DEI work. Respecting, protecting and ensuring the planet’s immense biodiversity and unknowable magnitude remains an essential part of the work that we do. This manifests through partnerships, inspiring changemaking and encouraging engagement with place.
We pledge to keep learning, advocating and taking action.
Case Study 1: University Charter School
In rural Alabama, Sumter County experiences some of the highest poverty rates in the nation and economic development is vital for long-term success. To spur economic and educational revitalization in this part of the state, in 2018 the University of West Alabama created University Charter School (UCS), a public Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12 school that embodies a place-based educational model aligned to regional workforce needs. UCS has more than doubled in size and will graduate its first group of seniors in May of 2023.
This past year we have supported UCS through a strategic advisory partnership with a focus on refining and scaling the UCS model within Alabama and surrounding regions.
Case Study 2: Future of Learning Council
The Future of Learning Council (FLC), a cohort of 40 unique school districts and learning organizations, has banded together around a single mission: to shape the future of learning in Michigan. The FLC is committed to leveraging the power of networked cohorts, research, and recent lessons from the pandemic to institute a long-term, systemic shift in teaching and learning.
Over the last year, we have supported several professional learning opportunities covering informal discussions on educators’ most urgent needs post-pandemic, deep dives on innovative learning models, and school visits that highlight what powerful learning looks like.
What is our audience thinking about?
Top 5 Blogs
- NFT in Edu: What Does the Future Hold? By Rachelle Dené Poth
- Trends Shaping Education in 2022 By Tom Vander Ark
- So You Designed a Profile of a Graduate, Now What? By Rebecca Midles & Katie Martin
- A Whole Child, Strengths-Based Approach to IEPs By Eric Tucker and Barbara Pape
- Students Are Calling BS on High School and Opportunity Knocks by Trace Pickering
Top 5 Podcasts
Interested in being a guest on the Getting Smart podcast? Do you have someone you’d like to nominate? Email [email protected]
- EduCatered: Dr. Tequilla Brownie
- Ken Kay and Yong Zhao on Beyond the Portrait of a Graduate
- Jenna Mancini Rufo on Reimagining Special Education
- Getting Smart Town Hall: What’s Next in Learning 2022
- Brent Maddin on Reimagining the Teaching Profession
Top 3 Town Halls
- Getting Smart Town Hall: What’s Next in Learning 2022
- Town Hall: The Great Education Unbundling
- Town Hall Recap: Microschools Can Lead To Macro Change
As indicated in our Equity Statement, we know this work is ongoing and dynamic. We have identified the following goals for continuing to grow our impact in 2023:
Better monitor the impact our work has, knowing how many students the work impacts.
Develop our pro bono and internship programs further, making sure that we can help grow organizations and people of all backgrounds and readiness levels.
Host an annual Getting Smart volunteer day for our staff where each of our colleagues spends a day in the community.
Thank you to our current and past partners. It was a honor to serve you this year and we look forward to continuing to serve you all in 2023.
Thank you to our Getting Smart Advisory Board for continuing to push us in new and thoughtful ways and for being a valuable part of our team.
Thank you to our Getting Smart fellows for all that you do to support our campaigns and partners.
Thank you to our teacher bloggers, columnists, and guest authors. We are grateful you choose to share your voice and your stories with our audience.
Thank you to our Getting Smart readers, listeners and followers! It is truly our passion to share stories, best practices, lessons learned and innovations with you. We hope you’ll share our blog, podcast and social streams with a friend (or three) next year!
Thank you to our team for working tirelessly to serve our partners in the best capacity and for bringing such huge impact to the communities we serve.