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Education Elements

JUNE 2019

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Leadership Institute Series

We are excited to host a series of Leadership Institutes, starting this July in Denver, CO! Join us as we tackle some of the toughest leadership challenges, including how to improve the way teams work, increase teacher retention, and create responsive strategic plans. Institutes will be held in July, September, October, November and December. Register now to secure your seat!

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PLS 2019 GIFLast month, education leaders from far and wide gathered in Atlanta for the 2019 Personalized Learning Summit. We heard inspiring keynotes and attended hands-on Personalized Learning Simulations, all in an effort to collectively Build Networks and Transform Education. Sign up to be the first to know where and when we will host our PL Summit next year!  

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Cupertino Starting PL with Middle School Math

cupertino logo-1Cupertino Union School District is committed to learner-focused classrooms and creating the best possible learning environments for their students. This year’s academic goals build on previous years and include building systems of support to ensure academic success and social-emotional well-being, and integrating instruction strategies, technology, and tools to personalize learning. As part of this mission, Cupertino USD explored ways to personalize learning and started with middle school math.  

Why start with middle school math? Starting with a small subset of teachers has allowed Cupertino USD to begin this shift in a structured and deliberate way. Personalized learning would build upon the strong foundation of Math Workshop practices that already existed in classrooms and help to provide instructional strategies to differentiate within a set of pathways. Their pilot group of 12 teachers designed learning experiences for their students that infused personalized learning strategies into their Workshop models. They continue to be leaders in this work, spreading their practices across their 5 middle schools. Next year, the goal is to expand this group to include all 6th-grade math teachers in order to build a solid foundation that will continue to grow year after year. We look forward to seeing how these practices spread in Cupertino!


Campus Growth through Teacher Growth

Sam Houston Dallas School

Personalized Learning Preparatory at Sam Houston in Dallas ISD is nearing the end of their first year as a campus. This year’s founding team launched a fully personalized PreK - 5th grade school by anchoring the work for their staff and students to their school vision. Through empowering students in a culture of innovation, Personalized Learning Preparatory at Sam Houston provides a one-size-fits-one learning environment that celebrates diversity, student voice, and excellence for every student.

Looking forward to School Year 2019-2020, the administrative team has thoughtfully put a structure in place to build the capacity of and to further distribute leadership among their staff. The team created the role of “PL Leads” to bring a heightened teacher perspective to their leadership team’s ongoing conversations as well as to provide teachers with an additional layer of teaming support. While growing their own leadership, the three teachers filling this role will serve as conduits between leaders and teachers in order to nurture the ongoing growth of their colleagues with a range of support.




The Importance of the Why
By Keara Mascareñaz, Managing Partner

WhyWhen I was visiting a district partner last month, I heard their leadership team name a tension that is common across our clients. Teachers were complaining that they didn’t have enough support and resources to implement collaborative, rigorous instruction. However, when the district offered training and resources on these topics, teachers said that this was “one more thing” on their already full plate. As we talked about what to change, we realized it wasn’t what the district was offering, but how they were framing the offerings. The district wasn’t connecting the dots between the teachers’ requests and district professional development opportunities. As a result, teachers lacked a clear understanding of the why (e.g. rigor is one of our core instructional practices and this training will teach you one of those tactics called Academic Language). By simply adding this kind of frame at the start of each session, we believe district trainings will have clearer value, be more aligned, and feel less like “one more thing.”

Districts aren’t alone in struggling to communicate the why and make clear alignment and purpose.

  • Where Implementation Fails - this article from XPlane shares why most implementations fail and tips for leading effective change. Shocking statistic: 70 percent of change plans never deliver on the promise, according to Harvard Professor John Kotter.
  • Winning An Argument - this article comes from Farnam Street, a new blog I’m following. When communicating the why, we need to take into account the views and perspectives of others. I especially like this recommendation: “if you want to win an argument, simply ask the person trying to convince you of something to explain how their view would work.”


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How Can Personalized Learning Support Educational Equity?

Hear from Design Principal Noah Dougherty about the role of personalized learning in creating equitable outcomes for students.

Learn more about Equity & PL

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How Do You Know Personalized Learning Works? 

Learn from Design Principal Andy Shaw about the impact of Personalized Learning on students and the evidence that exists to prove it.

Hear About the impact of PL





PL Summit 2019: Where We Built Networks to Transform Education

PL Summit 2019

It's been almost exactly 2 weeks since the 5th Annual Personalized Learning Summit came to an end, and our team still misses the biggest and best PL Summit we've had so far. We were left inspired and engaged – and we know many of you are, too – to continue the hard but meaningful work to reshape education in schools and districts.

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Becoming An Innovative Teacher Leader With Innovative Leader Competencies

Plant Growing in Stages

In 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that educators were leaving the teaching profession at the highest rate on record. As teacher protests about fair wages and adequate resources are on the climb, districts aim to staunch the flow of the teaching exodus. And while pay and resources are certainly worth prioritizing, a 2018 Gallup poll shared that teachers who left the classroom cited one overwhelming reason as to why: lack of career advancement. 

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A career at Education Elements is unlike any other. It’s not just what we do, it’s who we are and how we do it that makes this place so unique. We come to work every day because we love what we do. You can love your job too.

Check out our current openings here:

- Design Principal (East Coast & West Coast)
- Partner


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