District Administration March 2018 - 12

OnTopic

Grant Lichtman
By Tim Goral

7 steps to deeper learning
How district leaders can spark curiosity
and give students 'voice and choice'

Our education system is like a giant
embedded rock, says Grant Lichtman.
In his book, Moving the Rock, the
former administrator outlines seven
"levers" that schools or districts can
use to begin to pry that rock free and
introduce a "deeper learning" model
that truly prepares students for the
future. The levers, which include
changing assessments and a new
leadership model, have been applied
at a number of schools profiled in
the book. "My head explodes every
time I hear someone say, 'I guess we
really need to change schools because
they are stuck in the past.' Well that
train left the station a long time ago,"
he says. "We know why schools need
to change. The big challenge is how
to change our schools before we lose
another generation of students to a
system of learning that just does not
serve their needs."

DAmag.me/seven

12 March 2018

You visited numerous schools and
districts to find examples of the
deeper learning model. Do they have
common characteristics?
My experience is that there is a very
high level of agreement when you ask
stakeholders in diverse schools and
communities what they want their
schools to be. And that agreement centers around the deeper learning model,
which is an education that is vastly
more differentiated based on student
interest. It includes student voice and
choice. It is based on seeking curiosity,
rather than just finding answers and doing well on an exam.
How we make the change is where
the big existential question is now, but
there's not agreement about how to get
there. We're starting to see convergence
about what is successful, and that's what
I focused the book on.
What makes it more successful in one
place than another?
I don't think it's geographically dependent and (with a caveat I shared in my
book) I don't think it's necessarily socioeconomically dependent. It's certainly
not dependent on type of school-public, private, charter and so on.
It's really dependent on a number
of characteristics within a school or a
district, where we can trace efforts to
change and innovate going back decades-Characteristics in leadership, vision, commitment, resource alignment,
a willingness to take risks, a willingness
to connect beyond their organization,
and so on. Schools now have to exhibit

those same sorts of characteristics.
The reason I wrote the book is
that many schools and districts have
said they want to change but, in fact,
we know our schools have been very
"stuck." We get caught up in the finger
pointing-"Why is this so hard? Why
can't we change our organizations?"
I wanted to identify strategies and
tactics that schools and districts are using successfully to undergo significant
transformation, that don't require permission or empowerment from those
forces that have essentially created the
inertia in the first place. There are examples from every region, and every
type of school, where they have successfully overcome those forces of inertia.
Do you think one reason for the
inertia is fear? What happens if this
doesn't work? Will our kids be able to
get into college?
Yes. Fear of an unknown and fear of
taking a risk are classic and widely understood impediments to organizational
change across all sectors and, frankly,
for individuals. Fear and inertia are two
of the biggest impediments to schools
changing, certainly. And the fear of not
being able to get into a good college is
probably at the top of that list.
The college admissions policies that I
discuss in Moving the Rock are certainly
among the largest impediments to
schools significantly changing.
We see cracks in that dam through
efforts like the Turning the Tide report
(DAmag.me/tide), where there seems
to be a strong collective will on the part
District Administration


http://www.DAmag.me/tide http://www.DAmag.me/seven

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration March 2018

District Administration March 2018 - Cover1
District Administration March 2018 - Cover2
District Administration March 2018 - 1
District Administration March 2018 - 2
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District Administration March 2018 - Cover3
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