On professional development

For those of you who were thinking about professional development last night, I thought you might be interested in the following two TED Talk videos.

First, Daniel Pink. This one is animated. Pink has studied and written about motivation at work and found that what we think motivates people (money!) might not be as effective in all areas.

(A side note, I’ve used these animated videos to present these ideas to my high school students and find that they really help them to understand complicated ideas better. What’s even better is then asking the students to animate their own ideas!)


The second is Teresa Amabile. I came across her work a few years ago, when her book The Progress Principle came out. She has also studied motivation and found that people are most motivated when they feel they are making small amounts of progress – “small wins,” she calls them.  If you know of other people who are interested in this question and presenting new ideas on motivation, please let me know and we can share them on the blog!


Working as a team

Hi everyone,

Just another reminder to please complete our mid-semester survey.

Also, you might be interested in reading Professor Hatch’s latest blog post on education reform in Chile.


I wonder how all of you are finding ways to work together in this creative process. Do you feel that anyone’s voice is being left out? Have you found any strategies or methods for working in ways that help you to build upon ideas, instead of shutting them down? Please share your ideas in the comment section below.

I thought I’d share a few resources related to the idea of productive teamwork.

  1. A short article from the Harvard Business Review that presents three strategies for promoting candor in the teamwork process, noting that companies with the best financial returns are often those that create working environments where everyone feels free to share their ideas.
  2. Another TED talk! So many of these talks really do present great ideas! In this video (below) you will hear about the Studio School, a new school design in the UK created to address the drop-out problem by having students work in teams to do “real work.”
  3. Finally, I came across this short piece called “What’s a theory of action and why do we need one?” I thought it might be helpful for those of you who are thinking about how to clarify your own theories of action.

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Why even have a school?

Just a quick post to remind you of a few things.

I’m also including a message from Alia about a great opportunity for you all to participate in:

Hi Everyone,

I wanted to invite all of you to an opportunity to see schools selected by the NYC Dept. of Education showcasing promising practices. The new initiative under the Office of Interschool Collaborative Learning is designed to promote collaboration and strong practices by showcasing 17 schools that exhibit strong practices.

We are showcasing schools in all five boroughs from November 5th through November 21st. Each Showcase is a half-day visit where you will meet the principal, hear about each schools’ strong practice, see classrooms in action and listen to a teacher and/or student panel. We are Showcasing a variety of schools and practices such as  Pre-K, social studies, dual language instruction, arts education, special education, teacher development and career and technical education. 

Attached( Fall_showcase_schools_visits)is the landing page which links to the registration page if you are interested in attending any of the Showcase events. We have a few slots open, however I encourage you to register as soon as possible.

This is a great opportunity to see some great schools and strong practices right here in New York City! Hope some of you can make it.


Alia Sabbs 

Finally, I’m including a short video of a progressive, “student-centered” school called the Burgess Hill School started in England in the 1960s. As the narrator states, “England has long been famous for its educational establishments, the freedom of choice of schools and for their political and social toleration. But here’s a boarding school where youth is not merely allowed but encouraged to have its fling.” You can find the longer video here.

Collaborative online tools

Hi everyone,

I just came across this article and thought I’d share it with you. It is full of links to great sites for group collaboration and you might find some of them helpful as you move forward with your school designs.

Check it out: “I banned email at my company”

I learned about this article while listening an interview with Thomas Knoll on Rocketship.fm – a site that publishes podcast interviews with successful startup founders “about the early days of their business and the activities that helped them succeed at key points along the way.”


Designing new schools: the process

I really enjoyed last night’s class because it gave us an opportunity to hear from alumni, who shared their experiences developing new school designs for this class, as well as those who have the “real-world” experience of designing schools in NYC.  One interesting point that was made last night was about the process of design. I was struck by Dariana’s anecdote, in which she described meeting with parents in order to learn more about the kinds of school they wanted to see in their community. In this process of new school design, who gets to decide what a community needs? Who knows what’s best for students? As you go about thinking up your new school designs, how will the community in which your school will be situated influence your design process (if at all)?

I wanted to share a few videos I found that give information about some of the schools that were discussed last night, and also remind you to please let us know who is in your school design group. Please indicate your group at the bottom of this google doc.

iZone Scales of Innovation: The Cinema School from Manhattan Office of Educational on Vimeo.

School design

Hi everyone,
This week I’m just sending a short message to remind you all that we will have guests in our class this Wednesday to discuss the process of designing new schools. You can find more information about these individuals and their school designs in the “Week 7” assignment. All of the reading materials for this week’s class are posted on the blog for you to review.
Also, you might have seen this already, but I’m posting a short video created from Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk on education. You might find it interesting, if you haven’t already seen it.
See you Wednesday!

Thinking about new schools

I hope you are enjoying this beautiful day! The weekend is supposed to be rainy, which means it will provide a great opportunity for you to think about the schools you would like to design. I encourage you to take a look at the “Ideal School Letters” and the “Reform Critique” assignments that your classmates have posted on the discussion board (Blackboard). Reading about the ideas of others might give you a sense of who you might like to work with, and then you can reach out to form your school design groups. I happened to run into a student who was in the class last year, and she said she was reuniting with her school design group for dinner that night. While the process of designing a new school with a group of people can be demanding, we do hope that you enjoy yourselves and make new friends in the process!

We also hope that it was helpful to hear about three different school designs from those who are intimately involved with them. You can learn a lot about these organizations online, and I thought I would share this interview with Ron Berger (of Expeditionary Learning) so that you could hear more about his work.

The discussion this past Wednesday made me think a lot about how schools approach learning differently, and how the process of “scaling up” can distill a school design down to its essentials. What are the key ideas about a school that absolutely can’t change? What are the values, processes, or people, that give a school its identity? You might also be interested in a recent interview I conducted with Santiago Rincón-Gallardo, in which he explains the process of bringing a model for learning to scale in Mexico.