The Learning Accelerator and Bellwether Education Partners released Real-Time Redesign, a toolkit that provides school and district leaders with an actionable, inclusive, and rapid process for making targeted improvement towards more equitable and resilient teaching and learning. The toolkit draws on work conducted with school systems across the country as they urgently responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and demonstrates that, even during crisis and disruption, schools can make practical and positive changes.
“School and system leaders know they need to remove barriers to equity, but it can often feel difficult to find the right time to make these changes,” said Beth Rabbitt, CEO of The Learning Accelerator. “We cannot wait for the perfect time to take on the improvement and innovation we need to serve students. We believe that with the right team, tools, and processes school leaders can build durable mindsets and the muscles needed to inclusively tackle concrete, meaningful challenges in their schools, today.”
The toolkit reflects ideas from a number of design processes, but the Real-Time Redesign process is unique in its focus on the practical application of three key areas:
- identifying concrete problems of equity and resiliency,
- making targeted improvement towards bigger change, and
- engaging authentically and inclusively with those most affected.
It includes a series of guided activities paired with examples from real schools that were members of The Learning Accelerator’s Always Ready for Learning Strategy Lab network.
“Schools are resilient and making changes all the time, and recent events demand that we continue to hone our perspectives and actions around equity,” said Gwen Baker, Chief Operating Officer and Partner at Bellwether Education Partners. “Too often we let perfect be the enemy of good when it comes to designing and sustaining change. The Real-Time Redesign toolkit shows us that school systems can make small and intentional changes to efforts that are already underway that can sharpen their focus on achieving more equitable outcomes.”
School systems that have gone through the Real-Time Redesign process confirm it is a way to build critical skills for practical, continuous improvement towards more equitable and resilient teaching and learning.
“This process is very doable and transferable to a range of problems schools face,” said John Rice, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning at Cedar Rapids Community School District in Iowa. “The process is really clear and attends to equity, and gives schools a way to define a problem from the perspective of those affected, test a solution with rapid iteration, and determine if and how to scale.”
Suzanne Newell, EdD, Director of Academics for Austin Independent School District in Texas added, “One of the unique aspects of the Real-Time Redesign process was how we were able to really focus on student impact. We examined weak points in student data and interviewed students to learn more about what was/was not working for them. This has helped us to put human faces on this work and motivated us to be bold in our actions.”
“The most exciting part of this process that we will do more of is taking a more robust approach to gathering and incorporating the feedback and perspectives of families and students at the front end and throughout the entire strategic planning process,” reported Kevin Zimmer, Senior Director of Academic Operations for Mastery Charter Schools. “Through the empathy interviews and design thinking that puts student experience at the center via the Real-Time Redesign process, it’s incredibly important to elevate the voices of families and students to ensure that their input is driving our network’s priorities.”