By Beth Rabbit (The Learning Accelerator) and Leona Christy (Catalyst:Ed)
Schools and systems across the country are pursuing innovative approaches to make learning more personalized, mastery-based, and supportive of whole child development. Doing this work is complex, and given the variety of contexts, goals, and assets already in place, there is no one right “pathway” or model for implementation. Educators tap into a variety of resources — internal and external — to make their visions for learning and teaching, and the conditions that support them, a reality in cost-effective ways.
In The Learning Accelerator (TLA) and Catalyst:Ed’s respective work with education leaders and professional service experts we’ve learned that access to quality external consultants and supports can be a common, critical component to success. But finding the right expert at the right time can be tricky. On one hand, leaders struggle to find specific partners in the professional service sector to complement and supplement their internal expertise and resources. On the other hand, consultants spend a lot of time and energy seeking clients that best fit their capabilities, capacity, and interests. On both sides, the community lacks mechanisms for sharing knowledge and finding open source tools and resources to build from. This means the work can remain costly for both schools and the experts they bring in to help.
That’s why we’re excited to launch a pilot of the Innovative Learning Expert Hub (ILEx). This new project is developed in partnership between our organizations, TLA and Catalyst:Ed, two national nonprofits working to unlock collective expertise to help the education sector innovate, improve, and scale. TLA’s work focuses on making sure every educator has the tools, knowledge, and networks they need to enact personalized and mastery-based practices to transform K-12 learning. Catalyst:Ed informs and connects these change makers with the top management and education talent they need for their short-term, mission-critical needs. The ILEx will offer education leaders and professional service organizations committed to exploring and scaling innovative learning models a way to find each other and work and learn together.
In this first project phase, we’re going to help match a small group of schools and systems looking for consulting support with a networked team of design and implementation experts. For this initial set of projects, we will identify consultants and schools to work on projects that build essential supports for new student-centered teaching and learning designs.
Specifically, we’ll be matching three to four month-long projects with a particular focus on the following essential support areas:
Learning Materials & Tools: Projects that coherently implement aligned resources, including analog and digital curriculum, assessments, instructional materials, and devices
Professional Development & Learning: Projects that put in place adult-level learning experiences that support practitioners to build necessary skills and mindsets for enacting effective practices
Student Support Programming: Projects that provide student-facing, wraparound programs that enhance and amplify existing in-house opportunities and capabilities, often through partnerships with other providers
Community & Culture: Projects that create explicit and implicit practices, norms, rules, and ways of working across students, staff, families, and communities that foster inclusiveness, innovation, and productive relationships
Learn more about these project areas and how they fit into the bigger picture of implementation here.
Over the course of the remainder of 2019, TLA and Catalyst:Ed will be learning alongside these projects to explore how to best scope and match projects, as well as identify and share high-potential tools and resources emerging from the work.
Are you interested in joining the ILEx as a consultant? Or know someone who could be great? In this pilot phase, Catalyst:Ed will be working to vet and build the cohort of experts. Experts selected for projects by school and system clients will be matched for free. We will be working across all projects to ensure teams are aware of and can tap into existing knowledge and resources as well as document tools and lessons learned. We’re currently accepting applications. Apply here.
Are you a school or system interested in getting support in one of the pilot focus areas? Schools and systems looking for expert help will be matched later this summer. They will work with the Catalyst:Ed team to scope out projects and select an expert (or team of experts) based on need and fit. (Project scoping and matching process is free; the consulting work by the selected experts is not.) As noted, matched project teams will engage with TLA and Catalyst:Ed for the purposes of cross-project learning. Leaders who are looking for experts should fill out this form, our teams will be in touch!
Not sure how to get involved but have ideas or thoughts? Contact Catalyst:Ed’s project lead, Rachel Klein (firstname.lastname@example.org). We’re excited to hear from you!
Beth Rabbitt is CEO of The Learning Accelerator and an expert in blended and personalized learning.
Leona Christy is the Founder and CEO of Catalyst:Ed.