Leading yourself and your school through change is one of the most challenging leadership tasks. It takes time (typically anywhere from 3-7 years) and requires an adaptable, flexible skill set. When you lead this level change you are guaranteed to meet challenges, resistance and setbacks. But that doesn't mean you should quit. Far from it. It means you are leading work that is needed and work that is probably overdue.
Our workshops are based on the content in ‘The Human Side of Changing Education’. They are practical, hands-on and tailored to meet your school, team’s, or conference attendees’ needs. Some examples of what we've done in the past:
Designed and facilitated workshops for school and district leaders on leading meaningful and sustainable change
Designed and facilitated board retreats
Consulted on process and helped facilitate meetings as teacher-led teams drafted a new school-wide curriculum map
“Our partnership with Julie didn’t just help us with one initiative, it helped build habits and cultural norms that have outlived that work and allowed us to continue to learn, grow and improve our school in positive ways." – Andy Willemsen, Director, RVCS
We partner with schools, districts, conferences and consortia to design and facilitate workshops that help leaders lead meaningful and sustainable change.
When we ask schools to change, we are asking human beings to change and this requires special tools and a human-centered approach. Change the heart of the system by enabling the hearts and minds of your people. Learn how to make sense of challenging change journeys and accelerate implementation:
Discover the core tasks needed when leading yourself and others through change.
Understand why resistance is to be expected and how to get through it.
Learn how to use the "messy middle" of change, where real transformation happens.
River Valley Charter School
In support of revitalizing the Montessori experience:
- Designed and facilitated board retreats
- Designed and facilitated 'learning history' with faculty and staff
- Designed and facilitated community meeting with RVCS families and RVCS alumni
- Consulted on process and helped facilitate meetings as teacher-led teams drafted the RVCS Habits of Learning - these habits became a schoolwide curriculum map called The Peace Education Curriculum Map
FROM ANDY WILLEMSEN, DIRECTOR, RIVER VALLEY CHARTER SCHOOL (RVCS)
We first met Julie through one of our board members, he had worked with her directly at Harvard and recommended we partner with her as we began strategic planning work to revitalize the school, back in 2014.
The strategic planning process was centered on our academic program and the holistic education we provide our kids (we are a public charter Montessori school). Julie fit beautifully with our intention which was to more fully embrace the holistic nature of our education program. Sometimes our broader purpose can take a back seat to test scores and ‘annual progress’ on standardized metrics. Specifically, we were looking at the non-academic skills that we value as a community and we partnered with Julie to design, organize, and move that work forward.
Julie was instrumental in helping us clarify our thinking. She was relentless - as a result of our work together, she has tattooed on my forehead, “What does success look like?” - a question that always helps me define what we want and backwards design from there. She helped us define our own questions, identify goals, and draft pathways to reach those goals. It was great and it was frustrating. She didn’t give us the answers. Like any good teacher, she let us struggle and find our own way through it. As a result we are more invested and we feel more ownership of the work.
As part of this process, we went first to our faculty and asked, “What is the learning that matters most? What will be most valuable for a kid to know and be able to do when they leave RVCS and when they are 40 years old?” Julie then led us through a process where we sketched out the timeline for our school on large wall charts in the gym (our Learning History). Montessori uses a lot of timelines in instruction, so this process was a great fit for us. It gave us perspective on where we came from and the blank panel for the future was a great way to imagine our future and to ask ourselves “where do we want to go in the next 5 years?”
Julie also facilitated a community meeting with our families. We had a panel interview with alumni students and alumni parents. We asked them several questions, one of which was “What is valuable to know and be able to do when you are 20 years old? - and 40 years old?” This conversation really helped us get out of the grade level mentality and to focus on what we really want - which is successful, happy, engaged learners.
We boiled down all of this input to the RVCS Habits of Learning. These habits are influenced by Sir Ken Robinson and his book Creative Schools. We came up with our own 8Cs - Curiosity, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, Grace (Composure), Courtesy (Compassion), and Citizenship. But we didn’t stop there. We could have compiled a nice looking document with these 8Cs, distributed the document, and moved on with our daily work. With Julie’s help, we created faculty teams comprising 5-6 faculty members per team and spent a year diving into each of the eight habits - defining it, exploring how it is best taught, the aim for teaching it, and the outcomes we were hoping to see with our students. As a result of the teams’ work, we now have a schoolwide curriculum map called The Peace Education Curriculum Map.
The next year we took the training wheels off and a number of faculty piloted the curriculum map with 4 grade levels. Now the whole school is working with the curriculum map and we have a portfolio process aligned to the 8Cs. The portfolio process is a wonderful holistic catalyst where kids and teachers are seeing students as people developing into better people - not just better test takers.
Throughout this multi-year process, Julie was vital to our perseverance and commitment. When I and my leadership team would meet with her, we would come out of those leadership meetings all fired up about the work and how far it would go. She works in a way that brings people on board. She underscores the importance of everyone having a voice in the process. She brings a wealth of knowledge and also this crusading passion. I remember her saying early on when we met, “I’m not in this for the next 3 years, this is my life’s work and I'm in it for the long haul.” The work for Julie is so meaningful it defines her, so what she brings to it is a different kind of perspective than just a hired gun who would just get you through a particular problem.
Our partnership with Julie didn’t just help us with one initiative, it helped build habits and cultural norms that have outlived that work and allowed us to continue to learn, grow, and improve our school in positive ways.
Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning
In support of the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning’s mission to create and innovate in the field of Mind, Brain and Education Science:
- Founding Faculty Member of the CTTL Science of Teaching and School Leadership Academy
- Designed and facilitated workshops for school and district leaders on leading meaningful and sustainable change
FROM GLENN WHITMAN, DEAN OF STUDIES AND DIRECTOR
I met Julie three years ago through a mutual friend and colleague, Grant Lichtman. We invited Julie to be a panelist as part of a panel of experts during the CTTL Ideas in Education Festival in 2015 and 2016. In 2017 we invited her to be one of our founding faculty members for the CTTL Science of Teaching and School Leadership Academy. She will return in 2018 to continue this work.
At the CTTL, we are the content experts in Mind, Brain, Education science. In our initial work with Julie, she helped fill a critical gap in how to align a school’s culture and professional development program in support of our work in research based teacher development. We believe that supporting teachers and schools to move along the Mind, Brain and Education science pathway is critical for the future of teaching and learning around the world.
We were so inspired by the way she was asking us to think, we knew she would provide great perspective for the Academy.
Julie helped fill in a blind spot in our center: how to create and sustain change at the whole school or district level, not just the individual classroom. There are three ways in which Julie's work is compelling to us and to our audience:
1) It is really critical in this time and place in education that whatever we are saying is research informed. Her research is both impeccable and accessible - whether that be a public school, private, charter or international.
2) She’s a great collaborator. The essence of our relationship is highly collaborative - which is often not the case with so-called experts. We laugh a lot. I find her emotional intelligence makes the hard work we are trying to do, enjoyable to do.
3) She is also very hopeful. Education is embattled and Julie brings hope to what is possible in the field. For district or state level change, the path needs to be clear and the language needs to be accessible. Julie creates that common framework and language with our participants and it helps move people along their unique path of change.
If you are thinking of working with Julie, she will provide both a fresh and a hopeful perspective on school change. It requires work and collective buy-in. For those people who embark on this change, Julie gives them a pathway to grow as individuals and as a community.