First Look At “The Best School In America”

November 19, 2021

In April I was asked to join a team to design and build “the best school in America”, a provocative and audacious challenge from the edu-leaders at Alamogordo (NM) Public Schools.  Alamogordo is a small, diverse, rural lower and middle class town tucked away alongside the extraordinary beauty and climate of the Tularosa Basin, the…

Decreasing “Friction” Is More Effective Than Increasing “Force”

November 10, 2021

When it comes to human decisions, reducing friction is radically more effective than increasing force. This simple lesson is evident in everything from rockets to swimming.  And it is is key to understanding how to get people to “move” from where they are to where we want them to be.  Loran Nordgren at the Kellog…

Leverage Points of Change: Part II

October 22, 2021

If you are trying to change your school, this is where your efforts will be most rewarded. In Part II, we again visit the work of systems guru Donella Meadows who identifies ” ‘leverage points’ within a complex system (a corporation, an economy, a living body, a city, an ecosystem) where a small shift in one…

Leverage Points of Change: Part I

October 13, 2021

Schools are complex systems. In a meaty article by systems guru Donella Meadows  (HT to Tim Fish at NAIS for sharing with me) we find that, “Folks who do systems analysis have a great belief in ‘leverage points’. These are places within a complex system (a corporation, an economy, a living body, a city, an…

A VUCA Antidote for a VUCA World

September 2, 2021

Educators are gradually becoming familiar with an acronym that has gained increasing relevance over the last decade: VUCA. Our world is undeniably becoming more Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous.  We are tasked with preparing out students to live and succeed in VUCA world. VUCA arose in the American military sometime in the last two decades…

Book Recommendation: The Future of Smart

August 31, 2021

I was asked by edu-leader Ulcca Joshi Hansen to read a pre-publication version of her new book, The Future of Smart, (available now for pre-order; shipping in mid-September) and I give it a strong “two thumbs up”.  If you follow me and this blog, you know I am tired of hearing the same arguments for “why”…

The Monsoon Cometh

August 21, 2021

Most of my posts are about education; this one is simply about rain. The monsoon is the lifeblood of the American southwest.  During the summer moist, warm air flows north out of the Sea of Cortez and the western Gulf of Mexico.  In a good year, daily afternoon thunderstorms march across the great western deserts…

Why School? Thinking About Meaning and Purpose

August 9, 2021

Why do we teach? Beyond the facts and basic skills, what do we hope our students will learn?  Why school? These big questions get lost in our daily routines, our standards and standardized tests, college-focused high school resumes, the sudden disruption of a COVID pandemic, too-full classrooms, and too many kids facing crushing life challenges…

Indigenous Resources to Diversify Your Curriculum

July 8, 2021

Many of us are thinking, working, and struggling to find authentic ways to diversify perspectives across our learning experiences.  We grew up in a system that vastly overweighted the Near East-European influences on history, literature, art, and science.  Our desire to help our students receive a more balanced and historically accurate education is challenged by…

“Team-of-Teams” Really Works

June 18, 2021

What can a wildly diverse group of architects, engineers, educators, and district administrators teach us about how to transform the K-12 learning experience?  Plenty. As I posted last week, I am involved in helping to design and build a new public middle school in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Our charge: build the best school in America…

The “Best School in America”

June 13, 2021

“We want to build the best school in America, that will be at the core of our community”.  Those were the highlights of the request for proposals issued by Alamorgordo, N.M Public Schools (APS) for the design and construction of a new middle school.  My long-time friends and colleagues at the multi-award winning design firm of…

Adding To the Weak Case For Grit

April 18, 2021

Are we finally going to stop chasing grit? Way back in 2014, I posted a provocative blog that started a tense and widely read discourse between several profoundly smart edu-leaders on Angela Duckworth’s mega-hit theories of grit.  Several of my readers literally shouted that bending the knee to grit as the Holy Grail of student performance…

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