Education Opinion

The Secret to Schools that Keep Getting Better

By Justin Reich — December 09, 2016 2 min read
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This is the third post in a series based on the new free online course, Launching Innovation in Schools, offered through edX and taught by MIT faculty Justin Reich and Peter Senge. Launching Innovation in Schools guides school leaders--teacher-leaders, principals, department heads, IT directors, superintendents--through fundamental principles of launching and sustain innovation in schools. It launches January 17 and you can register now.

The magic of our best schools is really simple. The places where people are year after year making schools better and improving teaching and learning, they are places where the faculty are having fun learning and improving their teaching. When people can find joy in their learning, they keep learning. When people can find joy in working with their colleagues, they keep collaborating. Our goal as leaders in schools--teachers, parents, principals, librarians, everyone--our goal is to create schools that are learning organizations, places where the explicit goal of the system is to sustain not just student learning, but learning for everyone involved in the organization.

Justin Reich and Peter Senge discuss sustaining innovation and learning organizations, in the Launching Innovation in Schools MOOC.

The beauty of these places is that they are fabulous learning environments for students. Students learn more from who we are than from what we tell them. We know that for students to thrive in a fast changing and uncertain future, they just need to be constantly learning, not just for 12 or 16 years but for their entire lives. The best way for students to absorb that message is to live with a community of adults who are constantly trying to get better at their jobs, who are constantly trying to make curriculum more powerful and more meaningful, who are constantly finding way to help students become better versions of themselves.

When I first started teaching, I befriended the “Senior Master” of the school, Nick Nickerson, the teacher with the longest tenure, over 30 years. In late September I asked him, “How are your classes going?”, and he said “I have three sections that are off and running and doing great, and one that I just haven’t figure out yet.” That was so powerful for me as a young teacher: 30 years of math teaching and he’s still working on figuring it out. For people like Nick that’s the source of ultimate satisfaction, the chance to constantly improve craft and improve community.

Register now for two free upcoming edX courses for educators and school leaders:

Launching Innovation in Schools: Starts Jan. 17

Design Thinking for Leading and Learning: Starts Mar. 21

For regular updates, follow me on Twitter at @bjfr and for my publications, C.V., and online portfolio, visit EdTechResearcher.

The opinions expressed in EdTech Researcher are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.