Tradition and the status quo limits our ability to innovate.

The machine that is school has trouble changing because of the weight down of “how things are done here.”

Two words can help leaders break free from the constraints of tradition: What if?

Begin asking “What If” questions if you want to do something remarkable.

What if all projects were voluntary? Imagine how teachers would adjust their plans and offer options tapped into student interest.

What if school was only 4-days a week? How could we compact what we do in a 5-day week into 4-days? What kind of planning and redesign of instruction would be possible if teachers were given a full day to prepare?

What if teacher evaluations were 90% teacher reflection on goals and 10% an administrator’s rating? A rating is just a rating. That doesn’t help me grow. I leap when a coach helps me identify what’s most important and regularly challenges me to reflect and articulate my progress.

What if we rejected standardized tests? There has to be a better way to measure a school’s effectiveness. Two interesting observations based on COVID-19:

  • Standardized tests were immediately thrown out. How could that happen if they were so important?
  • The push to reopen countries is rooted in economics and politics … not that we have to get back to school so that we can take standardized tests and measure school quality. Any rush to open schools is predicated on the fact that we want adults back at work.

What if we taught less, but went deeper? Research shows that a teacher can’t cover the breadth of content as defined by state standards. So why are we still trying to cram it all in? My mentor says, “Would you rather be in inch wide and a mile deep, or a mile wide and an inch deep?” The answer is clear.

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