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Making Meaning of the "Highs" and "Lows" of Education

Zach Smith
Zach Smith
October 18, 2021

So this has been a lot… 

Multiple waves of a pandemic, an elevated national consciousness and conversations around long standing  issues of race, justice and power in America, rapid change in our practices, and teaching to black zoom screens to name  just a few. And at least professionally, we’ve been doing this in an educational system which has historically been painfully slow in its ability to adjust from its roots in the industrial age of “one size for all” (yes I said “for” all because I think we might be giving too much credit to say we thought much about “fit”)  education.  

Much of what keeps me up at night during these several years of disruption is this nagging question:

“How are we learning from this?”

Anjali Sastry and Kara Penn, authors of Fail Better, describe the worst failure as being the one where we fail to learn. Wouldn’t it be just another great tragedy to experience these years of disruption and not have a clear set of new practices, better beliefs, and more equitable outcomes for our community’s children and schools? 

How might we redeem these periods of disruption? How might we learn from our mistakes? How might we make amends for education’s failures for communities farthest from justice? How might we learn to engage in collective organizational learning? Where might we start? 

Maybe let’s start with ourselves and our most immediate communities - our teaching teams, principal peers, district collaboratives. Maybe we could start by asking some simple questions: 

  • Where did you surprise yourself this year with what you were able to learn and where you were able to grow as a result of this previous season in education?
  • Where did you fail? Who did you fail? And what are you going to learn and do differently as a result of these failures?
  • What are your goals for the coming season? 

The hope is this current turbulence ushers in new and more just educational practices centered around educator collective learning and educational equity. Which is why we have launched a new course centered around expert learning titled, Expert Learning In Action: Making Meaning Through Educational “Highs” and “Lows”. In this course, you will be prompted to rest, reflect, connect, and reimagine new individual and collective actions directly tied to what you’ve learned from previous seasons of teaching, learning, and leadership. 

Our communities have been through too much to also have to experience an educational system that refuses to learn and change. And unlike many of the challenges we’ve faced this past year, this is one area that’s within our power to control. Let’s ignite our identity as expert learners and collectively commit to making this happen.

Discover how to create a sustainable path to recharge, reflect, and set a collective vision for a more inclusive and equitable future.

Learn More 

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