Building Ecosystem Excellence: New Orleans Celebrates Students, Teachers, Schools

Did you see this great video posted on New Schools New Orleans (NSNO) Facebook page? #proofpointday (NGLC originally mentioned the event here.)

Now there’s more news to celebrate.

Last week, NSNO recognized the important role and contribution of excellent teachers in the city. Celebrating the college-going aspirations, hard work and goal achievement of students on a citywide basis is a pretty cool idea! It broadens the scope of the conversation with young people about what’s important, valued and possible in a community.

Yet also recognizing the hard work and commitment of teachers, and honoring their story and journey is equally instrumental in building professional pride and community. Events like these take on greater magnitude, as is the case in New Orleans, when they’re intentionally connected to a set of strategies that includes school incubation, talent development and a citywide vision for educational excellence.

Collectively and over time, all of this contributes to what some (inside the city and out) are calling a new normal.

What’s worth noting? Three schools were recently funded for redesign. Two additional new schools are being designed and developed by local teacher leaders, and a significant pipeline of interested educators and operators is lining up as a result of very intentional and connected efforts around personalized learning.

Here’s how partners in New Orleans are helping to shape the education ecosystem:

  • Leveraging national expertise to mobilize investment in school redesign. Through a next gen technical assistance shop like Blueprint Education, New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) ensured that interested school operators were exposed to some of the best school models, practices and leaders in next gen and personalized learning. Local school teams heard about playlists at Summit, tech-enabled mastery learning and use of space at Intrinsic, and college-going culture at USC Hybrid High. There’s no better way to accelerate learning and the ability to redesign schools for better performance than to pair a willing and capable operator with a proven leader and encourage their efforts with funding, policy, and a network of peer support.
  • Enabling small-scale rapid prototyping with lead teachers. With inspiration from 4.0 Schools (start-up incubator) through the ‘future of school’ strategy initiated last year, local educators Dr. Vera Triplett and former KIPP teacher and 2014 Fishman Prize finalist Jonathan Johnson have started pop-up or micro schools. You’ve heard of pop-up restaurants, in which selected menu items can be consumer-tested before going full scale. This same concept also applies to new school starts. The best way to find out if an idea or product is valuable is to test it with real users. Dr. Triplett courted interested parents whose children could benefit from integrated therapeutic services—a key part of her design concept—and invited feedback. This allowed her to quickly iterate on her ideas and work to refine her ‘Noble Minds’ model. Likewise, Johnson’s concept for the ‘Rooted School’ will position students to secure high-wage, high skill jobs in and around New Orleans. His local approach is built on experience and need.
  • Connecting like-minded professionals to create edtech synergy and solutions. Educate Now! helps to coordinate edtech meetups, happy hours and networking chats. These recurring events are open to any educator in any of the city’s schools. It’s a great place for teachers to learn and share more about personalized learning, discuss tools and develop or indulge their entrepreneurial mindset.

Your city may want to consider initiating similar efforts, or if several initiatives are already underway, ensure that they are connected to create the greatest impact on teaching and learning in your community.

 

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