Two young boys with pencils and laptops are smiling and a logo for The Learning Accelerator is in the top corner
A group of 5 colleagues, working together on a table to make a decision with stakeholder input

Colleagues and friends, 

Many of the school leaders we’re working with are grappling with tough choices as they begin to plan for post-ESSER-funded budgets. TLA’s work with teams over the last decade would point to three crucial lessons for navigating these moments of uncertainty and change.

First, ground decisions in equity and make choices with proximity. Aligning choices to established strategy is good, but taking the time to test strategic assumptions and surface emerging priorities directly with students, families, and teachers is critical. Our Real-Time Redesign toolkit has some terrific examples of ways teams can do this. 

Second, consider constraints as innovation opportunities. When faced with urgent resource challenges, our instinct can be to ruthlessly prioritize and cut costs. But we’ve also worked with teams who use these moments to reorganize their resource use and re-think work in creative ways (we documented many of these in our Hop, Skip, Leapfrog project.) As one of my former doctoral colleagues and Hopkins Public Schools superintendent urged her team during the pandemic, “We can’t do more with less; we have to do differently with less.” 

Third, be explicit about the tensions faced and have conversations about how to balance them. In our study of school system change management, we found certain decisions surface again and again. These decisions are linked to competing priorities, and systems that managed to sustain innovation and change figured out how to hit the right tension to maximize value in their context. Crucially, these decisions can feel opaque to external stakeholders (“Wait, why are we choosing X over Y?”). Leaders can manage this by having explicit conversations about what they’re weighing and by being clear on why they are choosing to value one objective over another.

More than ever, we need to invest in capacity to collectively learn, sharing the best ideas, tools, and connections to ensure every kid can reach their full and unique potential. Thank you for being with us in this work.

Yours in partnership, 

Beth Rabbitt, Chief Executive Officer (she/her)

Featured Updates

Guidance for System Teams: Look Both Ways

Blue and green cover page of The Learning Accelerator's report titled "Look Both Ways: A framework to help education leaders navigate through competing approaches to system-wide change"

How do education leaders navigate challenging decisions in change management, and what strategies do they use to manage tensions or competing priorities? In this 2018 project interviewing 35 system leaders (and surveying 100 more), TLA unpacked the logic behind decision making and identified 7 key decision areas that system teams face. 

Read the whitepaper to explore each challenge area. What key decision areas are top of mind in your system?

Opportunity: Drive Exponential Change

Logo in navy blue and kelly green of the Exponential Learning Initiative with a half circle above with an exponential curve pointing to the top right corner

Are you reimagining how to accelerate learning at the heart of student experience? Are you using virtually supported tools or strategies to power your innovation? Check out this exciting new grant opportunity from The Learning Accelerator here. 

We're looking for network applicants to join our Exponential Learning Initiative. Selected networks will receive up to $150,000 to increase access to and scale their innovative approaches across a set of school sites as part of the inaugural cohort forming for the 2024-25 school year. 

Priority deadline to apply is April 19, 2024.

Flyer of NEISTE webinar with Dr Beth Holland, Michael Ham, Jin-Soo Huh, and Rashida Kimbrue Major. Webinar Topic: Strategies and Resources for Implementing the New National EdTech Plan. Date: Wednesday, April 24, 2024 at 4-5PM Eastern Time. Includes link to register and TLA logo

Webinar: Strategies and Resources for Implementing the NETP

With the release of the 2024 National Educational Technology Plan (NETP) in January, TLA identified a need to provide guidance to school and system leaders on how to consider and implement its recommendations within their own context. Interested in an engaging conversation about strategies and recommendations for how to convert policy into action?

Join the webinar on April 24th by registering here! This panel discussion will include several members of the TLA Team: Dr. Beth Holland, Jin-Soo Huh, Rashida Kimbrue Major, and Michael Ham.

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