Project Springboard may be over, but these educators are just getting started

October 4, 2021 | and | Design, Learning Futures

“I absolutely loved meeting with districts from all over the US and the world to discuss and reflect on our assigned readings. There was much learning through this process that would not have necessarily happened in our own district.”

“Simply having a platform to connect with educators outside our ‘bubble’ was amazing.”

“I enjoyed hearing the energy and forward thinking from education leaders around the world.”

These are a few of the responses we received when we asked the participants of Project Springboard about their experience in a follow-up survey. A common theme in the responses was the value of connecting with like-minded educators and leaders whom they otherwise would not have met. We are glad that the experience we provided, through a series of five online studio sessions with 21 vertical teams of educators from across the US, Canada and Australia, was able to help forge connections and build community, especially during the challenges of COVID.

As it turns out, the name we originally gave the event — Project Springboard: Reimagining School Post-COVID — was overly optimistic about the timeline of the pandemic and how soon we would be moving into a “post-COVID” environment. And yet, the value of reimagining school, and more specifically, of carving a path forward by engaging a wide range of school community members to define a vision for what school could be and to make progress toward that vision, has been made clear by the pandemic. As one of our guest speakers Michelle Reid, superintendent of Northshore School District in the Seattle area and 2021 National Superintendent of the Year, discussed: in times of uncertainty, we often develop nostalgia for the past. And yet the schools of the past didn’t serve all students. Rather than look to the schools of the past, we have to work toward the schools of the future. The goal of Project Springboard was to jump-start that process for the school and district teams that participated.

Michelle spoke at the fifth and final live online session of Project Springboard on August 18, two months after the previous session in June. At this last “check-in” gathering, we asked each team to share a short presentation on the work they have accomplished and their next steps going into the new school year. The teams presented to one or two other teams in breakout rooms, led by members of our facilitation team, with some time for feedback and discussion.

We’ve created a report that gives an overview of the content from each session, the outcomes from the teams, and a summary of the feedback we received. We hope that participants stay connected through the What School Could Be community website, where educators from around the world are sharing their ideas on how to reimagine education. We are grateful for the collaboration on this project with Ted Dintersmith, Tony Wagner and the What School Could Be team!