Envisioning Systemic Change

By Jessica Sherman

Nineteen primary level teams completed the first three days of Lesley University’s Literacy Leadership Team Institute.  During this time, six-member school literacy teams – comprised of the principal, the literacy coach, classroom teachers, interventionists, and other key literacy personnel- had the opportunity to explore issues critical to systemic school improvement.

One of my favorite parts of this training is an activity where teams construct a model of their school based on nine components– values and beliefs, leadership, standards, assessment, classroom, teaching, supplemental teaching, home/school community partnerships, professional development and implementation.  Each group creates a visual representation that illustrates how they would like these nine components to build and depend upon each other in their school.

As groups try to articulate the relationship between these components, the conversations are rich and impassioned, providing participants a chance to envision what systemic change around literacy might look like in their buildings.  The change process begins as these discussions shed light on areas of school culture that have been ignored or examined in a vacuum.  The exciting part is that there is not one “right” way to configure the model.  The products are gorgeous, but the real power is in the process.

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The team from The Sarah Greenwood School in Boston used Spanish and English to build the model for their dual language school.

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Mather Elementary School, the oldest public school in the United States, used the image of gears in motion to illustrate how each component impacts the next.

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The Josiah Quincy School, located in Boston’s Chinatown, incorporated their mascot into their model.

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