We are on a journey, and sometimes it’s a bumpy one. That’s a constant refrain when talking to districts converting from traditional curriculum/time-based systems to student-centered systems. Below are a handful of insights shared by the Pittsfield School District leadership team about their redesign process and the challenges they are encountering. (See the rest of the series on Pittsfield: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3)
1. Community as Authentic Partner: Superintendent John Freeman explained that, “We took direction from the community about the kind of graduates they wanted and the type of school they wanted. As we began the high school redesign process, we have never backed off from engaging our community. Our community is in the driver’s seat.” Everyone we spoke with throughout the site visit reinforced the value that the broader community and students are partners. As PSD began implementation, they alerted their Community Advisory Council (now the Good to Great Team) as they hit implementation issues and engaged them in problem-solving around mid-course corrections.
2. Project Management: PSD says they couldn’t have done it without assigning staff to be the project managers. It’s just too much for district staff and principals to manage daily operations and the redesign process. Building project management capacity is more than dedicating staff – it’s also about building the capacity of the district to use project management tools such as process analysis. Even students are learning to create process analysis maps. Tobi Chassie, Co-Project Manger of the Systems Change Initiative, was grateful for the insistence of Nellie Mae Education Foundation, PSD invested in building out the districts project management capacity. (more…)