Part 1

Part 2

Innovation team

Ken is a part-time teacher part-time Innovation Team member in his district, in Connecticut. He works A days as a teacher and B days as a researcher/implementer of high school reform.

  • How innovation team started.
  • Why isn't this happening more across the nation?
  • What he focuses on as part of high school reform: Mastery based learning, Capstone, Bridge academy - middle to high school, Credit recovery.
  • AP kids have benefited greatly from traditional grading.
  • Innovation team used to include a principal, but it was too disconnecting for a principal in their model.
  • Innovation team helps connect the two high schools in the district.
  • Typical day on innovation team is quite hard to describe - research, visiting schools, presenting at conferences, reporting to superintendent, reporting to school board, reporting to business leaders who are supporting the program, thinking and planning about how the things he is learning with his colleague, checking in on capstone class, and more.
  • An idea for building office hours into the school day.
  • We spend so much time being scheduled, we need some time to do other things.
  • Structure when they need it, and trust when they need it.
  • What accountability looks like for the innovation team.
  • Empowering teachers is the best way to have this work done well.
  • Ken has professionally immensely in the last year because of the time he has spent thinking and learning.
  • Teachers in countries that do better than us spend less time teaching and more time collaborating.
  • The leadership development opportunities are incredibly valuable.
  • What can be replicated in any district?
  • Systemic change is really hard and it takes many different issues to be supported.
  • Start building relationships by listening.
  • Growing initiatives small on purpose.
  • How can districts start this? Teachers have the ability to be more free to do this work than teachers.
  • The boots on the ground are teachers and students, and getting them involved is how to get buy-in.
  • Email Ken at
  • District web site about the innovation team.

Part 2

  • Mastery learning - in passing, it looks likes it is easier, but that is not really the case.
  • Students were getting D's because they weren't pushing themselves or because they needed better feedback. Now they are able to do better.
  • Looking on Powerschool with a parent and talking about grades in subjects rather than grades in behaviors.
  • Mastery grading is about instruction.
  • It's not as easy to treat kids as though they are in the same boat.
  • Kids can no longer rack up points on fairly rote things.
  • A tension in our profession is that everyone should be college ready. That is lip service and it is really about graduation rates. We need to be able to hold kids accountable.
  • We need to be serious about kids' abilities.
  • Mastery learning is a much more equitable system.
  • We have some educating of teachers and parents and students.
  • Currently, we punish and reward kids for their behavior that has nothing to do with their academic achievement.
  • Kids may finish early in schools that focus on that focus on mastery, but they may also finish late. We need to be ready for that.
  • Differentiating between 1.25 and 1.5 and 3.25 and 3.5.
  • If colleges can accept transcripts from Bangladesh, why can't they accept one with a 1-4 grading scale?