← Conversations

Discussing Change Within the Well-Functioning School

Session 1
Joshua Gates — The Tatnall School

While it may seem to be a “first world problem,” facilitating a conversation about improvement in an already-successful school can be difficult for a variety of reasons. Some topics to be addressed include:
- techniques (Google doc collaboration, small groups phasing in work over time, etc.)
- motivating the need for change
- increasing buy-in for new approaches and ideas
- understanding the legitimate (and not-so-legitimate) causes of resistance to change among teachers and administrators
- introducing data into a non-data-driven environment
- not letting the good be the enemy of the great

The example of Eric Mazur’s realization that his successful and happy Harvard physics students were actually learning very little, and his efforts to remedy this, will be a jumping-off point for the session. If you're coming, please watch "Confessions of a Converted Lecturer" beforehand! If you're not up for the whole thing, the first 20 minutes or so are the general idea, and here's an edit condensing it to around 18 minutes.

Conversational Practice

Modeling one of the practices that can work in a large and stable organization, the large group of participants will establish the goals of the discussion first, identifying several sub-questions, and will break into smaller groups, collaborating face-to-face within the group and intra-group using a shared Google doc. As groups add their input to the doc, they will see the input of other groups, and can add that information to their small group discussion, respond to the other groups, and otherwise form a large collaboration from many small collaborations. Each participant will be able to add his or her voice frequently, feel involved in a more personal small group dynamic at all times, and also be able to share ideas across a larger set of people. Each group will also not necessarily need to address each question, so that participants can add their input to the areas about which they are most invested, improving the average quality of thought of all contributions.

Google docs for collaboration during the conversation:

First Gdoc: bit.ly/educonchange1 or the direct link

SecondGdoc: bit.ly/educonchange2 or the direct link

Third Gdoc: bit.ly/educonchange3 or the direct link

Conversation Links

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Presenter Profiles

Josh Gates
Josh Gates
Tatnall School


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