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- For our purposes, I want to offer the idea of holding onto that we don't need one class size to be fixed across all parts of the day. But that actually could be a variable concept. - Just think about Summit's personalized learning time. Their students are working in these rooms where the ratio, if you will, of students to teacher sometimes goes up as high as 50 to one. And yet, because Summit's culture is so strong, students stay highly engaged throughout and are really doing their work and staying on task. - And in a district implementation setting, in a district here in California called Milpitas, they've used a lab rotational model where they're sending up to 100 students to different lab spaces where a few adults are monitoring lots of students, and that allows them to re-deploy other adults to have much more personal, smaller learning environments with the students back in their classroom. A second example, a school called Alpha Public Schools in San Jose has actually loaded their class sizes at 34 to one, but they've built their core schedule where at any one time there's a 50-50 mix, where half the students are on the computers facing a wall working mostly independently, and half of the students are working in a small group settings, doing kind of direct instruction with the teacher. So the functional class size is 17 to one, and if you visit them, you see it actually feels very intimate, and students will tell you, "Oh, I like how small my class sizes are." But my going to 34 to one, they give themselves some financial flexibility that allows them to actually be economically stable, even on California's very low funding rates. - Now, we get that there's some constraints on your ability to innovate with class size. There are existing assumptions in communities, there's policies around class size or line of sight, there's labor provisions that restrict what you're able to do on this. We get all that, and they're very real barriers to re-thinking class size. - And many of these policies and restrictions actually come from a very good idea of what they're trying to solve. But the result is that they actually end up hampering innovation, people don't have the same freedom to try very different models. And we don't think it's actually that controversial to suggest it might be okay for students to spend an hour a day in a class size of 75 to one, working more independently, if that results in much smaller class sizes later, where the teachers and students can really get them a more personalized and intimate learning experience. And if you're in one of these constrained settings, you can't obsess about the constraints. People need to be able to say, "Given my constraints, what can I do?" And then lastly, we need to share those pieces of feedback with the policy makers at the district and state level because they count on practitioners on the ground to identify the obstacles, so that they have a shot to try to clear some of those out of the way. - That's exactly right, and just think about how some of these schools are using this flexibility around class size to rethink what they do in a day. Some schools, this isn't radical, or doing whole class time or whole school time, where it's basically like an assembly. They bring their whole group of students into the gymnasium, or something like that, and they use the time to actually really focus on school wide values and those non-cog skills that we were talking about earlier. - What is it that you're so passionate about that you wouldn't have to get paid to do it? How are you unique? How are you, you? What is your passion? - My passion is for art and dance. - Two claps for you. (clapping) - I'm so thankful for everyone today. All right, on the count of three, "Thankful Thursday." One, two, three. - [All] Thankful Thursday! - [All] We are navigators yes we are. We are navigators going far. We work hard through the day, so at night we rest and play. - Remember the example of us being the world's best astrologers? Our current schools are organized based on the year a student was born and what day of the school year it is, as if we can predict what the right content is. And Ken Robinson has this great line of, "Why are we so obsessed by student's "date of manufacture?" Instead, if we let students go at different speeds, the organizing principle becomes, "Who's ready "for what content when?" And actually, age might become a lot less relevant. - Two tangible examples to demonstrate the point. Brian and I were actually recently in a public district school that has recently implemented blended learning, and the superintendent was taking us around and said, "See in this classroom here, we've got second "and third graders working on the same concept." And as Brian and I roved around, turned out that they were actually everyone from first all the way up to fourth graders in the same classroom, and it didn't phase the students one bit. One other example, which is Acton Academy, that we talked about earlier in Austin, Texas, there, students are actually in mixed aged groupings for significant parts of the day, and as a result, older students get to mentor the younger students at some points in time. In other points, they're working on the same concept. - And at Education for Change's new school Epic, they've looked at the middle school of three years and broken each year down into four parts. So it's essentially just a 12 part journey that students are on. And it's okay that one student might be on level eight, and another student on level six, even though they're both technically in their second year at the school. It goes back to that kung fu example we talked about earlier. if you're clear about the levels that each student needs to get through, and it's really mastery based, we can think about very different kinds of grouping of ages working well in the same setting. It's really important to ask ourselves, "Who's the right person to teach each lesson? "And how are they being assigned throughout the day?" Essentially, in education speak, what we would call the master schedule. - So as we think about the staffing question in the context of school re-design, first start with the student experience that you ideally want, and then ask yourself three important questions. The first one is, "Who do you need on board?" Basically what types of teachers? The second one is, "How many of them do you need?" And then the third question is, "How will they be spending their time?" - Now, this can be tricky, I want to acknowledge that, right? This is not about laptops for lay-offs and just replacing teachers, or just using lower cost employees. I'm a teacher, I'm pro-teacher. What we think is really important is that we let the teachers and the administrators actually work together to look at the schedule and figure out, "How should we be using "our most important resource, the adults in our buildings, "to best benefit what students need most?" - So the schools that are innovating in this way, what they're thinking about is where are the places where students can really own their learning and work independently, and where are the places where we need adults to actually intervene, and spend times in small groups with these students? And then once we've thought about that, and we can start to think about, "Where do we really need to use our credentialed teachers? "And where could we use other staff support, "to actually support our students with whatever they "might be trying to accomplish?" The key thing is to use the right teacher at the right time to really leverage that expertise, to support all of our students. - At Navigator schools, for example, sometimes para-professionals can run the learning lab time, and then teachers are allowed to specialize by subject area expertise. So for their model, they actually need different numbers of teachers than they would if they were using a traditional staffing model. - It's also interesting to see how these schools are using all of the adults to support learning. So at Summit Public Schools, for example, they actually have the principal overseeing students in the personalized learning time. And a lot of these schools are rethinking how can we use vice-principals, teaching assistants, special education instructors, and so forth to jump in and join classes or pull students out for targeted intervention. So as we move away from the idea of just having one category of teacher, to having teachers play different roles, these schools are thinking about ways to make a professional career path or ladder for teachers to take Master teacher status, or to have other teachers come in at the beginning of their career and be mentored some. And even thinking about compensation systems to reward teachers as they take on new and bigger roles within the school. - So what we're moving away from is this notion of a teacher by him or herself in an isolated classroom, to starting to think about team teaching. And at Rocketship Education, which is a network of blended learning schools starting to grow around the country, what they've done is move away from their original model, to start to actually tear down the walls between their three classrooms, so that they can have three adults inside a single space with lots of students, and start to leverage their talents in different ways. So students are rotating between direct instruction, online work, and small group work, and the teachers are playing off each other, to figure out where they need to intervene and when, to get the most for their students. So, I've one pause point as we think about this, which is that as we start to just tear down walls and group students and teachers in big open learning spaces, do we risk just doing the open classroom experiment all over again? How do you think about that? - Right, so those of you who know open classrooms from the 70s, we sort of did this and we built these giant things. And I think the difference is that under the open classroom movement, we were still doing direct instruction. We changed the physical space, but we didn't change the teaching style. So if I'm going to lecture to a group of 25 kids, I actually would rather have small walls, quiet, and have their undivided attention on me. But if we think of a different teaching approach and we say, "Well, some students "should be working independently." And then I want to have a small group over here, and then maybe have one section where there's going to be a little bit of direct instruction, I actually can't do that very easily if I have three linear boxes, and the kids have to go in the hallway and come back and forth. So I think the idea of new and open classrooms is really interesting, if we have a different teaching style to go with it. Of course, we still have to think about noise and distractions, and there may be times when we don't want kids in big open pods. But we honestly don't know yet exactly what it looks like. We do know that the current model's not getting us there, which is why I'm such a big believer of people doing some thoughtful experimentation to try different approaches, and to ideally try it before you spend all your money blowing out your walls, because we know that's not going to be the solution.