Each day brings new stories of a changing economy that has left workers behind. Today’s graduates will emerge into a world that is fundamentally different from the one their parents and grandparents entered. Students’ ability to navigate this new world depends on their deep mastery of a broader set of knowledge and skills – and the ability of schools to support them.
Most students today are educated within a 19th century school model. Not only is this model not designed to address the challenges of the future, it’s also not set up to make sure all students achieve today. Dedicated leaders and educators across the country are working to solve this problem by undertaking myriad changes – large and small – to ensure that all students have an opportunity to succeed.
In 2012, San Jose Unified School District piloted a redesign competition to spur and support new school models. With support from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and a donor-advised grant from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and in partnership with the Institute for the Future and Enterprise Development Group, then-Superintendent Vincent Matthews challenged school leaders and educators to develop and propose new ideas for reforming schools. Selected proposals received extra resources as well as coaching and implementation support from Cross & Joftus to put their new ideas into place.
Working with San Jose redesign teams reminded us that, at its core, school redesign and improvement is an exercise in change, and changing how we educate and support our students is an incredibly complex task. With Hewlett’s support, C&J set out to distill what we know about change management theory and practice into a clear and comprehensive resource for leaders undertaking reforms in schools and communities across the country.
The Playbook for Redesigning Schools for the 21st Century offers practical guidance on how to initiate, plan, implement, and manage a school redesign process, guiding readers through the process of developing a clear and coherent vision for change and then designing and managing the change process. It also provides tools and resources for creating a positive school culture and developing the key skills, knowledge, and dispositions necessary to support a highly effective redesign effort. Its use isn’t limited to full-scale redesign. Schools and districts seeking to initiate and manage changes of all types and sizes can use the Playbook’s tools.
Given the pressing need to prepare students for a future world, and the pace of change in today’s, it’s likely that schools and districts will need to get used to change – and will need support to do it well. We hope this resource proves useful.
The Playbook is an open resource available to download here as a free, print-ready book.
This piece was co-written by Amy Cox.