William Sprankles @wsprankles
In our new 6-12 Campus, one of the main features we completely redesigned are the doors and entrances of our classrooms. Instead of the old school door with a narrow rectangular window (which usually gets covered),we designed a U-shape frame with two entry ways, each leading into different classrooms. Both doors, and what would have been adjacent wall space, are now completely glass.
This redesign has served as a form of transformational or disruptive innovation. While it is still a journey with many challenges, it has been a game changer for our school culture – positively impacting students, staff, administration and other stakeholders in a variety of groundbreaking ways.
Collaborative Curiosity has been one of the greatest areas of growth. Teachers are now able to instantly observe their colleagues in action. They can quickly see the methods, activities and strategies other staff members are using to engage kids. This leads to further dialogue and sharing of ideas between staff.
Transparency has directly increased Accountability. Not only is it easy to see what’s taking place, but teachers innately are high performers and take pride in their work. So, when your daily instruction and classroom culture can be viewed by so many stakeholders, everyone is inclined to give their very best effort.
Efficiency for Administrators has shifted to a whole new level. Principals can circulate the building and monitor 80-90% of the student body and staff in action without ever entering into a classroom. Admins can provide daily feedback about norming school culture and student expectations. In theory, this intelligent and transparent design has created a precursor to the traditional walk-through by creating “visible snapshots,” and we all know what a picture is worth a thousand words.
Again, the challenges are tough, but the rewards are greater. Don’t close the door on such a remarkable opportunity for growth, collaboration, transparency and accountability.
P.S…. click the following link for a full overview of the design process, articles and photo-journals of the Princeton 6-12 Education Center.
By William T. Sprankles III
Director of Secondary Schools