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Bank Street Shares Lessons Learned through Work in School Districts at Annual Convention

Posted by Bank Street on November 28, 2017

NoneThis November, the Learning Agenda, a grant-funded program at Bank Street charged with researching, documenting, and sharing Bank Street’s progressive educational practices with policymakers and practitioners, released its first public report titled “Structures and Supports: Building a Throughline Approach to District Partnerships." The report, which analyzes the Bank Street Education Center’s work in urban districts, was presented to an audience of educators at the 31st University Council of Educational Administration Convention in Denver, Colorado by author Jessica Charles, Director, Bank Street Learning Agenda.

The report takes a closer look at lessons learned by the Education Center through its work to help develop strong teaching practices at scale in districts across the country and shares case studies of select program partners.

“Since its inception in 2014, the Bank Street Education Center has been gathering evidence through its partnerships with districts to inform an approach to system-wide school reform. This report tells the story of how the center’s early partnerships unfolded and the ‘lessons learned’ by the Bank Street’s staff and partners,” said Charles.

Support for case study districts began with classroom visits and interviews with teachers and leaders. The information gathered was then used by the center and district partners to co-construct a customized strategic plan utilizing the center’s Throughline approach, a model that helps connect all layers of the school system—districts, principal supervisors, school leaders, and teacher teams. Tailored structures and supports were crafted to help assist individual schools and their teachers to better implement learning practices that align with their district’s specific goals.

While each district featured a distinct and complex set of challenges and outcomes, the report uncovered several key lessons about how districts grapple with planning, executing, and sustaining system-wide instructional improvement. The lessons learned, which will help guide the Education Center in its future work, include:

  • Teachers and school leaders should be engaged in change implementation early in the process. Engaging stakeholders from all layers of the district promotes a shared vision that can only be cultivated when “all the adults in a district have opportunities to collaborate and reflect together, contributing their experiences and voices through regular meeting structures and other feedback loops to inform the process,” the report notes;
  • Districts need support learning how to create meaningful adult learning experiences that may translate to shifts in mindset, instructional practices, and, ultimately, sustained change at the school-level; and
  • A narrow professional development focus may not be a good starting point for collaboration between institutions of higher education and school districts if larger-scale change is the goal. The report finds that this approach limits the potential for the kind of broader engagement required to impact deep system-wide engagements.

“System-wide change is incredibly complex and, while each context brings a unique set of challenges, this report has helped us to take a closer look at the common issues that arise, which can aid us in advancing our goals for each district partnership more efficiently. As we apply this learning to our work we aim to develop a set of criteria for driving large-scale instructional change that can become an anchor for assessing and engaging districts,” said Emily Sharrock, Deputy Director, Bank Street Education Center.

To learn more about the Bank Street Education Center, click here. To access the full report, please click here.

tagged: bank-street-education-center, jessica-charles, learning-agenda