visualizing the process
There is no standard roadmap for helping schools and communities adopt a Big Picture approach to education. However, there is a narrative arc. While each engagement has an origin story, the actual work of building capacity and supporting equitable, student-driven practices in schools is cyclical and non-linear. While establishing relationships and expectations is a critical initial step, refining relationships remains a crucial piece throughout the duration of a community's partnership with BPL.
With decades of experience working with schools, leaders, educators and students, we have found that it typically takes three to five years for transformational change to take root. As such, we seek longer-term engagements (informed by short and intermediate term goals) that honor the non-linear nature of change.
Designing School & Operations
As equal partners in the transformation process, Big Picture Learning's vision is to fully engage with all relevant stakeholders in the co-designing process. Although BPL brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to student-centered learning pedagogy and design, our intent is always to work with and empower teams in the process.
Leveraging best practices in student-centered designs, BPL will work with local leaders to reflect on their articulated vision and current reality to create a design that meets the unique needs of the community.
BPL also recognizes that all designs and plans are emergent. Hence, BPL coaches typically learn from and with our partners, creating a true co-designed process which benefits from regular and real-time calibration.
Embedding the Practices and Distinguishers
The crux of the BPL coach's work with a school is to partner with leadership to implement change. This may look different based upon the explicit needs of the school and/or school community, but typically includes regular one-on-one coaching sessions, during which the coach fosters reflective practices, facilitates courageous conversations and strategizes plans of implementation.
Additionally - in partnership with school leadership - the coach works with staff and local community to co-plan and facilitate professional development, lead observation and reflection sessions and refine leadership models.
It is often during this phase where collaboration with others BPL schools - through Communities of Practice (in which school teams connect with and visit other campuses) - is introduced as a transformational piece.
Going All In
As the school moves ever forward toward more equitable and student-centered practices, the BPL coach works with staff, leadership, students and the larger community to systematize successful practices, cement new habits and fight off tradition's gravity.
This may include the establishment of routines, structures and policies at the school or district level (or even advocacy for change at the state or federal level) and the development of tools and resources to support the work moving forward.
The school is leveraged as proof of concept to inspire others while also becoming a training hub to support other innovative educators who aspire to build their own student-centered learning communities.
The structures that need to be in place for a BPL school to succeed include a high amount of collaboration where we are co-planning and co-creating a vision for the school.
Melissa Agudelo, Former Principal
San Diego Met High School