Well, it has been a while since I have written. However, in 5 days, this school is going to open and I couldn’t allow that to happen without some reflection. So… what have we learned?

 

  1. People first… everything else later. As a result of this project, I’ve been interviewed by a fair share of reporters. I’ve given a few speeches, and have spoken with educators from around the world. And there is nothing that I am more certain about than this… The School of the Future will open on September 7th because we had the right PEOPLE on the project. They were passionate, focused on kids, willing to try new things and worked harder than ever. Finding the right people… Getting them on board… and then helping them cross the finish line is how great things happen. And it is certainly what allowed this school to open.
  2. Politics and coalition building are necessary levers. The past three years has brought many challenges. Some more significant than others. And most had to do with politics and bureaucracy. During those critical points, our ability to not only identify the person who could remove the obstacle, but also have a pre-existing relationship with them, was critical. I can’t imagine what I would have done without the support and responsiveness of district leaders.
  3. This is hard. It shouldn’t have been this hard. It shouldn’t take a miracle to build a great school in an urban community. It shouldn't be an exhausting experience, leaving participants tired and frustrated. It needs to be easier. We need more agile learning organizations. We need to figure out a better balance between control and creativity. We need to create an environment that is inspirational, not just functional. We need governance structures and public policy that set high standards, but also provide resource to achieve them.
  4. Hope matters. This school was willed into completion. As the months progressed, more and more individuals jumped on board. More were motivated by the thought of creating something that hadn’t been created before. People were inspired. And when people are inspired, amazing things can happen. We need more inspiration in our schools. We need to fill district offices, hallways, community centers, neighborhoods with a sense of hope, We need to communicate a message that we understand the challenges, but that we are ready to take them on.
  5. You have to ask the question. If you want to bring reform… ask. If you want to try something new… ask. If you want to change the status quo… ask. This project would never have come to fruition if Paul Vallas hadn’t ask the question, “What if”. 9 out of 10 times, the answer will probably be no. But if that one time the response returned is yes… all the years of being turned down just became worth while.
  6. It’s the journey… September 7th will be amazing. But it will pale in comparison to the moments experienced over the past three years. I’m pretty sure I will never have the opportunity to be part of something like this again. (I don’t think I’ll be up to it J) However, the past three years have been the chance of a lifetime. I hope I have served it well.

 

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read these submissions. While they have not been as frequent as I would have liked, they have all been sincere.

 

I’m looking forward to next Thursday. I’m sure it will be a great day. I hope it will have a lasting effect.

I’ll let you know.