The moment has come to get high school transformation underway in your school or community. At this point, your priorities include gathering a committed and diverse design team, exploring what brings everyone to the table, and establishing some goals—for what you’re trying to do, and for how you’ll work together to achieve your objectives.
Recruit a team that reflects the diversity of your school community. Seek out people who will help generate bold ideas, build connections between school and community, and stick with you for the long haul. Young people have an especially important contribution to make! Be sure to include:
Don’t hesitate to reach beyond your school community. Invite leaders of local nonprofits, health professionals, designers and artists, employers and entrepreneurs, scientists, college students, and others with a true commitment to young people and the future of your community. Remember, you can add people to your team later on as you build momentum.
Once you’ve recruited your initial team, take time to get to know each other as people. Find out why this work matters to you, individually and collectively. At an early meeting, invite everyone to share a story about an important moment from their own high school experience, a situation in which they were personally affected by inequity, and a concern or question they believe the team needs to explore.
Start to figure out what you’re solving for. Ask critical questions about how well your local high schools are serving students today. Are all students getting the preparation they need to succeed in college and their future careers? What problems or inequities will your team need to study and address? What opportunities do you see? In other words, how can you make sure every single student experiences a truly rigorous, engaging, meaningful high school education?
Get Ready to Work Together Productively
You’ll want to agree on a few ground rules for how you’ll work together as a team. Here are some recommended guidelines:
Be sure to discuss and agree on some shared expectations for team participation. When and where will you meet, and how often? Will you meet in person, virtually, or a combination of the two—and how will you use technology to maximize access and participation? What happens if someone misses a meeting, or several meetings? Who will take responsibility for specific tasks like scheduling meetings, sending out reminders, and maintaining a shared calendar? Will one person take notes consistently, or will you rotate? Think through the people, roles, and skill-sets represented on your team and ask yourselves, together, if you need to add members to expand your collective capacity, include more voices, and more closely represent your school community.
You’ll need all the capacity you can get to design an extraordinary, equity-driven high school. Take a look at your team and ask yourselves, Who’s here? Who’s missing? How can we bring more contributors to the table to expand our reach and effectiveness?
Step 1 – Research
Take an inventory of your current team members. This will help you understand who’s at the table, and who’s not.
Step 2 – Reflect
Now reflect together on how you might expand the team—and thereby expand your capacity to design an equity-driven school.