This week I was talking to a principal about his desire to keep his school focused on a few goals. He was feeling good about things until the new wave of “requirements” from the state came down. These included, but were not limited to a new training program for all teachers on how to teach English Language Learners, a new science curriculum, and new intervention protocols, with of course all of these needing to be started in the next school year. It is no wonder his head was spinning and his fears of losing focus were valid. Complying to demands from “higher” ups sabotages real reform efforts in schools.  Far too many times,the fear of  being out of compliance is so great  that many district and schools allow these mandated reforms lead their efforts.

So what is the answer? I am not saying  that districts shouldn’t comply with federal or state mandates or that schools shouldn’t align their efforts with district initiatives. However, if we really believe that the mission of schooling is student learning then we must  invert the “ school reform” process. Rather than working from the outside in (think top down) what if we worked from the inside out?

When states, district, schools and teachers operate from an outside in stance the lens from which they operate looks something like this:



What if it looked like this instead?



Food for thought…..