A Ride to Remember

“The bus is moving… This is really happening!” Words from a district director as a school bus full of leaders left the lot to begin the first annual Districtwide Learning Walk.

A bus full of educators may seem cliche. But the bus played a significant role in the success of the experience for a team of educators in Clear Creek ISD (TX) as we engaged together in a facilitated learning walk across their schools.

First of all, everyone left their car at the depot, so everyone on board was along for the ride. After starting the experience, there was no turning back.

More importantly, everyone on the bus was one collective team, still able to learn together as we traveled between schools. We used the travel time on the way to the first school to front-load our learning with some overall context and a few important process details.

The rest of our time together was intentionally left open to allow for organic conversations to evolve. As a result, we heard people. Each participant had the chance to ask questions, to grapple with common language, to discuss entry points and progressions, to strategize in support each other’s next steps.

Four months prior to this experience, a group of us together had a great day of learning in one of Clear Creek’s schools that is strategically designing and implementing learning practices to empower all learners. The director commented that day that other people across the district “need to see this.” Born from that statement was the idea to put people a bus and take a tour of five studio schools. We picked a date and a flurry of scheduling and coordinating began.

By the time the day had finally arrived, more than forty educators had the chance to visit nineteen classrooms across five different schools. The visiting educators were armed with learning models, strategic look-fors,  and questions to guide the experience, with time intentionally worked into the schedule for reflection, questions, and next step considerations.

During the closure, the participants shared insights from the day including surprises, possible next steps, and supported needs.  Interestingly, there was overwhelming support for continuing the District-wide Learning Walks, with recommendations for increasing the scope to include teachers and other stakeholders.

Sometimes, change can seem difficult because those undergoing the change don’t have a model for what it looks like to move from current to future state. It is important to take people to see positive examples of the learning models we want to perpetuate and spend time in reflective conversations about best practices.  Getting to “see” it in action at various entry points and levels of implementation makes taking the first step more accessible and accelerates the transformation.  That, followed by job-embedded support to implement new practices makes change sticky.

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