Education Reimagined with Alin Bennett
July 13, 2021
Education Reimagined with Alin Bennett

Our antiquated educational system needs transformation. But how do we go about creating a system that reaches the needs of students in an equitable, inclusive, and learner-centered way? 

Today I’m talking with Alin Bennett, Vice President of Practice and Field Advancement at Education Reimagined. His career has been dedicated to creating learner-centered, equitable education in a variety of school leadership roles. 

Education Reimagined supports school transformation at the national level and creates an equitable education system, offering a powerful vision for America’s future.


About Alin Bennett:

Alin Bennett is Education Reimagined’s Vice President of Practice and Field Advancement. He is a staunch advocate for national school transformation and creating an equitable education system. His previous work has included supporting curriculum development, leading advisories, and leading schools in ways that continuously advanced learner-centered, equity-based practices. Alin is based in Providence, RI, where he lives with his wife and two young children.

Learn more about Education Reimagined on their website or by following them on Facebook or Twitter.


Jump Through the Conversation:

  • [2:18] Education Reimagined Five Core Elements
  • [3:33] The vital role of community in learning 
  • [9:03] Beginning the journey of Education Reimagined
  • [17:11] Learning about the Learning Lab
  • [25:58] Agency is more than just a choice!
  • [32:01] Alin’s Magic Wand: That all learners experience a sense of love and belonging with adults incorporating these practices into the learning environment
  • [34:37] Maureen’s Take-Aways


Links and Resources:


Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Android. If you like what you heard, please leave a review on iTunes and share what you liked about the show.



Maureen O’Shaughnessy  0:03  

Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at education evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present-day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how. I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host and founder of education, evolution and the micro-school coalition, where we are fiercely committed to changing the narrative to reimagining the education landscape and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive. If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe to our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around awhile, have you left a review?


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  1:08  

Hi, Alin. So good to have you on the education evolution podcast.


Alin Bennett  1:13  

Oh, I’m so happy to be here. Thank you for having me on.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  1:15  

Absolutely. And listeners. Today I’m chatting with Alin Bennett, education reimagines VP of practice and field advancement, education reimagined support school transformation at the national level and the creation of an equitable education system. Aliens career has been dedicated to these endeavors in a variety of school leadership roles. So let’s hear how Elon is making school transformation happen. So, Alun, learner centered equitable education. What could this look like?


Alin Bennett  1:52  

Yeah, I think the the past year has past 15 months has really had us pivot, as an organization of how we think we can make learner-centered education a reality and making it available for every single child in this country if they and their families choose to sort of coming towards that. What we found that education reimagined is we have five elements that can prize a learner-centered education environment. And sort of what we discovered over the past five or six years, is that the most learner-centered sites have been ones that have all five of those elements, incorporated into their systems and structures and model already, as opposed to sort of piecemealing socially embedded or learner agency of personalized, relevant and contextualized at a piecemeal rate. And we found that all of those elements are interdependent and intertwined in a way that it’s difficult to do them sort of one at a time or two at a time. And it also makes the work harder, and sometimes more frustrating, because if you’re moving at that snail’s pace of just sort of bolting on the elements onto the conventional system, that sometimes moves at a pace that is slow for practitioners, and not really worth, you know that you don’t get the same bang for your buck, as if you can start with a fully transformed model in your community. 


Alin Bennett  3:23  

And so what the pandemic really illuminated for us was the power of the community to already have learner-centered experiences embedded, and just part of the community assets, and the neighborhood assets that exist in the various communities. And if you can leverage those community assets as quickly as possible, you can much more rapidly create a learner-centered experience for your child. So if you have a local YMCA, that has a strong civics program, that your child can be really engaged in and is usually naturally learner-centered, we find the youth development world sits as learner-centered naturally. If you can credential that learning, for the child experience, why not do it? So we’ve really expanded from the sort of a single site, one stop shop, which schools often tried to be to expand it to a more community-centric learning ecosystem where a child can navigate learning experiences all over their community, including their school in order to create a more fully realized learner-centered education for themselves.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  4:30  

I love that I want to back up a bit. I joined a group of advisories around the US for big picture learning, I wanted to understand more of the components. And there were some schools in the Midwest that were Yes, we want to pursue big picture learning and big picture learning. It’s like, you can take an idea you can take whatever you don’t have to take our model or name, but then school administrators who said this will be on top of everything else and so they were just like, Where can we squeeze this in? How can we rearrange and It was doomed before it started. And the teachers were so overwhelmed because an ad on as you said, it’s like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It’s not learner-centered, it’s just adding one more feature. And, and I agree with what you’re saying, we have to really look at the whole program and we have to look at who else is out there the YMCA in the Seattle area, they have so many cool human programs inside, you know, and leadership development, and we’ve had them come in and work with our students. But why aren’t we looking at how we can use multiple sites, and maybe even PE if you really want to make sure that that component is happening? Why couldn’t it be that I keto class that they’re taking it the why or somewhere else? So I love what you’re saying about the whole package and using the community instead of trying to go it alone. That makes perfect sense. So I know that education reimagined isn’t just this, hey, here’s an idea we have a lot went into these five elements that you created, maybe you can explain because we talked about getting the other at the table that we don’t want to just to be like-minded, and how you set your whole organization up and how you got voices, I think is a really powerful statement. Right now, when we have this assignment mentality in our country, you did something really amazing. So could you explain how you got to these five elements?


Alin Bennett  6:30  

Yes, absolutely. And I, I’m glad that you mentioned that, because that was sort of a foundation of education reimagines work when it was still part of an organization called convergence that looks to bring ideologically diverse people in order to help develop consensus with them. So it actually started before the organization was created just a collection of 28 people from all sectors of the world from the workforce, to cap it, captains of interest of industry, from teachers, classroom, teachers, to administrators, all from all over the country, all with very different ideological views. And they spent 18 months sort of in a room together, for lack of a better term, trying to hash out how to reform the current system. And after 18 months of just really rich discussion, talk, there may have not been a lot of forwarding progress being made. And what they came to realize is that the structure of the game and the rules of the game would never allow them to reach the outcomes that they wanted to imagine. So they were aligned on what they wanted young people to support supported a bigger comment to actualize for themselves. But it could not be reached in the game that they’re playing, or that the education game as a world is up to right now. In the conventional system. So that’s where they started. Really the question of, if we were to fully transform and start upstart from a place of creating something wholly new, what would it look like? And what would the elements of that transformation look like? And they ended up coming with the five elements of education being socially embedded in a social endeavor, that learners have full agency, in their learning experience, that it is open walls, and that world is the playground for the child’s learning. But it’s personalized, relevant, and contextualized for every single child, and that it’s competency-based, and that it is about the skills and dispositions you’d like that your child to leave with. And then being able to demonstrate it authentically, in real-world situations.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  8:39  

Wow. Okay, so we know this is what we all agree on. How could an educator or parent say yes, I agree. How do they get from here to there? Is there a baby step or a way that you coach people on starting that journey?


Alin Bennett  9:01  

Yes, we largely play the part of helping people create a shared vision and a shared context for their community to move towards learner-centric centered education, and sort of empowering them to help like help them discover their own leadership within their own local community. And then at that point, after sort of creating a shared vision and language for these communities, they are network just has so many organizations, not enough, not nearly enough, enough organizations where we can point them to. So you mentioned big picture learning, big picture learning as a massive national organization that we can point people to as like this is a network of schools that are aligned with this vision and language that we just work with you in order for you to discover and develop. connecting them with that work, but what we’re currently doing is creating options, toolkits, and resources for folks who are actually moving more towards not working necessarily with a single bundled model like big picture learning or AI big. But what it really takes that community driven approach and just creating small learning hubs for their own community. So we’re in the development with a very diverse group of stakeholders from around the country, and just creating those resources currently right now. And that’s very new. And just to sort of being very transparent and explicit, this isn’t created fully yet. And this is something that we’re we’re going to have to build out. And when I say we, I mean, every community, I think, should be tasked with doing it themselves, they know themselves the best, they should build it out with whatever support and options that we could provide them, so they’re not starting from scratch. So at least they have a compass point in which they can start using to navigate their way as they build this out. And while that sounds daunting, and then like a very large task, I would say, trying to completely and regularly engage with a system for 150 years is a huge task in itself. As you can see, it’s been 150 years, we’re trying to fix something, you know, we, we, we have completely different values, and wants for our system, and what we want our kids to become and help them realize for themselves. But we’re still using that same Model T Ford when we’re really trying to take flight, and we’re slapping faster engines and wings on a Model T Ford and expecting it to take flight. So we just need to start building rocket ships.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  11:46  

I love that metaphor and completely agree, we can’t, we can’t slap some wings on this. We’re not going to get a rocket ship out of this present system. I work with a mastermind group of small school leaders. And it’s the same, we need to empower them. They all have different visions, different resources, different communities, one’s doing this rural outdoor, and do you have all of these hands-on and young entrepreneurs running it. Everybody needs to within their community, what are our resources? How can we create, and I love your five elements because the five elements are not cookie-cutter, they’re not you have to buy into this curriculum, this you’re buying into the idea that students own their learning that it’s learner-centered and that it’s, you know all about the agency. So I think that this is how we need to be going it’s just hard. Getting people out of that locked in part, I’ve been looking at the neuroscience of it. What do you think we can do? There’s so much fear, and there’s so much unconscious, like, I want my kids to succeed, I want them to have what I had. This must look like textbooks and memorization to go on to college was that’s textbooks and memorization. What are some ways to help people maybe get past some of those unconscious fears and even think that this is possible? Because I’m sure people are going Oh, wouldn’t it be nice, but wouldn’t it be nice if I won the lottery? You know that they’re probably kind of dismissive because it just seems impossible? How can you help people start to challenge their own limiting beliefs?


Alin Bennett  13:32  

Yeah, it is. It’s probably one of the hardest parts around this transformational work that we’re up to in education because it is really a shift in worldview and paradigm of how you think education, it is like going from an earth-centric view of the universe to a heliocentric one. It took decades and decades of sort of work on the scientific end to prove it. But you still have people believing that the Earth was the center of the universe for decades after was sort of scientifically proven, it’s just the way that they swarm view of the world. So as you’re engaging and enrolling people to try to see this new paradigm for education, doing your best to authentically hear their wants and means and then allowing them or inviting them, I should say, to create a completely clear space to imagine something new. Because it’s it’s tough to realize a future if you’re still sitting in the past. So really supporting them to see how that new future could look. And then exposure and like exposing them to some of the impacts that the current education has always had on our young people and what it really was meant to prepare them for it was meant for them to retain knowledge in a very standardized factory way that was, may have been useful. And in one generation when we’re trying to rapidly create basic human literacies in a population that largely did not have the ability to rewrite and work with numbers. But that’s the system that it was, it was created for we understand now that that is basic human literacy. And we want way more for our kids. And what we want them to become, we want them to become empathetic, lifelong learners, who want to contribute their gifts meaningfully to the world. And you don’t need that sort of comprehensive knowledge set that the original committee of 10 and created in order to do that, well, in this world, we have access to knowledge in a way that we never had now at our fingertips. And so it’s really about what skills and dispositions Do we want our kids to leave with formal education. With, including that, you know, formal education is just one form of education that will be regularly engaging for your whole life. You’re learning organisms, and we crave that so?


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  16:09  

Absolutely. Wow, that’s a new worldview. That’s a pretty big shift for a lot of minds. And I like what you say, though, if we can stop living in the past and just create, what would we want? I don’t think there’s a disagreement, I think we all want our students to be capable, lifelong learners and have the skills and dispositions. Ah, I think education reimagined is, is really spearheading, and leading. And I know, our school is thrilled to get to go through the next Learning Lab and to align even more closely with your five elements just because it’s what we believe it’s gotta it’s got to be there. So tell us a little bit about the Learning Labs, because we, I’m going to be in them this summer with one of our shared leadership team members, and we can’t wait. So would you share what that’s about?


Alin Bennett  17:06  

Yes, we were so excited to see you all sign up for the ends and is still available to sign up for the fall. By the time this comes out, we’ll have a full cohort starting in October, if you’d like to sign up if it sounds like something that resonates with you. So the Learning Lab orientation, this is actually the inaugural version of it, we usually did shorter in-person gatherings, just called the Learning Lab. And what the Learning Lab is, is a network of over, you know, 200 sites and environments and practitioners who have come to the shared vision of learner-centered education, and have developed that shared language that allows us to collaborate and advocate for this movement in a much stronger way. Because we were not suffering from that sort of Tower of Babel. Welcome commitment, where what we’re all doing advisory in some sort of calling a different things. Well, we’re all doing different authentic assessments, but all calling it different things, it just makes us hard to work together. So that is sort of one of the major power of this lab. And then I think the second most powerful thing is because of the parochial nature of the system, and how often environments have to do just the basic things just to keep their doors open and the lights on. But they often do not live, they do not are able to notice that they are in a community nationwide, and I would argue worldwide who are up to the same thing. So it makes you not feel alone in the work. So it is one of the most powerful things to do is be in community with other people who have that shared vision of you. And the way that we’re so isolated from one another. I think when I came to that community, three or four years ago, it was such a transformative experience for me. So I say that it’s the why behind the orientation itself, develop a shared language that will empower us all to increase the velocity of this movement, and then just be in community with people who share the same sort of mindset of vision of you as as you. So what this will be, this will be seven sessions, where we’ll explore the learner-centered worldview deeply so we can sort of all come to the same shared vision, we’ll look at some of those elements that we discovered and distinguish them from other languages that have often been co opted by the conventional system. So we’ll distinguish and like what we mean when we say competency based because that is like one of the most co-opted terms. Oh, yeah. So we really want to create that sort of what’s in and what’s out of what we mean by those five elements. And then one of the newest parts is we have also really been committed to helping our community the learning community, What we mean by diversity, inclusion and equity and liberation, in a certain way, because again, some of these terms get co-opted by the larger world, and they lose their meaning. So we want to inject or revitalize meaning in a way that resonates with us as learner-centered practitioners, and advocates for this movement. So we’ll also dive into equity. And so that’ll be the first four sessions. And then in the final three sessions, we’ll really start to play with all of those five elements and the distinctions and see how they live sort of, in different communities, across the nation, and, and play around with how different communities can strengthen and advance those five elements. And then, sort of Lastly, bring it back into your own environment or community to see how you can advance it. So that’s like, the third section of the lab itself is sort of empowering you and challenging you to take action in their own environment and communities in a very structured supported way, with people in this with people in the cohort that you’ll be joining, giving you really strong critical feedback on your plans.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  21:13  

Wow, that I guess I had looked into the earlier Learning Lab, this is such an expansion and so much more depth than and I agree, when we’re in the community, it’s so much easier, and I’ve worked in schools all around the world, this is not a US situation, this is definitely a global condition. So I think it’s spot on, I love that you’re piloting something so rich, and I also love that it’s during the summer. So Jess, and I can really dive into it without having the school’s daily concerns to do so.


Alin Bennett  21:48  

Thank you, thank you for creating something that helps us get to that common language and that we get to do this in the community.


Alin Bennett  21:56  

That’s great. I’m really excited. So here we start next Tuesday. And yeah, it’s I’m really excited to welcome some new members to this community. Every time this community grows. It just is so revealing for us as an organization around how many people are out there that want to step towards, this paradigm of education. And it’s just heartening for me every time. I see someone sign up. Like there’s one more, there’s another person who wants to step into this movement.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  22:26  

Yes, yes. Wow. Well, this gives us a good background on education reimagined. I’d love to take a minute and just kind of unpack who you Alin is behind this organization. So I have some turbo time questions for you.


Alin Bennett  22:40  

Yes, love, though.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  22:41  

Yeah. Okay, so alien, what’s the last book you read?


Alin Bennett  22:48  

I usually read in pairs. So I’m going to give you two. So I just finished a colleague of mine, you may know her Uncle Jesse Hansen’s work called the future of smart. So just finished her manuscript, which will be published soon. And then Fred Rogers, the last interview. A personal hero of mine is Fred Rogers, Fred Rogers, and although he’s a person to everybody,


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  23:12  

Yes. Mike dropped there and boy talks about to really empowered perspectives on the value of each unique human. Love that? How about two inspirational folks or characters or anything that you would love to meet? 


Alin Bennett  23:36  

that’s a tough one. I’m going to give a sorry, a general bland answer because the first one is someone in particular, but anyone I would say, Who created a powerful stand for themselves, and in which to live their life, which I think many of us do, especially educators, but one that lived into that stands so powerfully that they were able to risk everything to maintain that stance, including their health, their lives. So you have a name that could be Gandhi. King Mandela, any of us anyone who was Yeah, anyone who has created a stand for themselves in bigger than themselves and lived into it fully in that in such a way that is powerful and I think we all aspire to and are very few of us can reach. And then I still, it’s on my bookshelf. I mean, my bedside standard never leaves is the pedagogy of the oppressed. So powerful fairy would be my second eye. If I could just sit in a room with him for an hour and do what I’m doing with you. Right now. with him. I would, I would feel very inspired and complete. He was my initial inspiration as I transitioned to education as a second career.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  24:47  

Love it. Have an attempt talk that inspires you.


Alin Bennett  24:52  

Oh, there’s a lot of those. I know what I’m not gonna destroy her name. Lera Bora disk did one I think back in 2018, around the power of language, and it’s when I first started coming towards education we imagined, and they had a shared understanding of how fundamental language is for the human mind as an individual, but for us as a species and how we communicate with each other. And just like the power of having a shared language and understanding completely shapes, how everything is created in a social setting anyways, so I thought that was just a fascinating TED talk around. It’s really what separates us as a species. And he was really sort of historically, what made took us from that leap from into society is just that creation of language and how powerful it is to shape our minds.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  25:50  

Yes. What about what would be the biggest thing you wished folks knew about student-driven learning? Maybe there’s a myth you would debunk? Or there’s something you really think is a selling point.


Alin Bennett  26:06  

Yeah, that there is a market, fundamental difference between agency and choice. Agency is knowing the rules of the game, understanding why you’re playing the game, and able to make informed choices based on your understanding of the game and the rules of the game. The choice is just sort of something you can do without really understanding the rules of the game. So I just think there’s, they’re often conflated, and that people think learner agency or student agency is simply giving them a playlist of things to engage in a standardized curriculum. But that’s not that’s, that’s not an agency. That’s just a choice. So I if people can really distinguish between those two terms, I think that’d be very valuable for the movement.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  26:55  

I love it. I took parenting with love and logic. And we’ve actually brought that into our parents at our micro-school, and choices. Do you want to wear the Red Sox or the blue Sox today? When you’re trying to help us? You know, get something done? And that’s Yeah, what if I want to wear flip flops? Or go barefoot? Or what’s the bigger picture here? And what are what are all the possibilities, so I can picture that completely. I love that. A pet peeve of yours.


Alin Bennett  27:25  

People think learner-centered education is one where kids are sort of on their own, doing their own thing with no direction or guidance in a way that isn’t social. And that it’s the exact opposite of what that is. We think foundational eight is about learners being in partnership with people they love and trust. And they are co creating and sort of CO experiencing education together. And it’s informed by things outside of basic desire and interest. Desire and interest, and passion are a huge part of it. But it’s not the only thing. So when folks together on computers, going through some digital curriculum at their own pace and not interacting with any kids, like that’s not what we mean by education. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  28:17  

Absolutely. What’s the passion you bring to education reimagined?


Alin Bennett  28:23  

I would say a commitment to liberatory action in communities. It just happens to be I take for areas sort of approach where education is can be a foundational one, but I am I just bring a commitment to any whether that’s access to health, education, water, food, I just think communities we live in a moment now where I think communities are starting to find their power. I’m sorry, reclaim their power. They’ve they already know it’s there, but reclaim it. So I just bring that commitment to education reimagined, being education being one of the vehicles that can help that reclamation.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  29:04  

Love it, yes. How can others be activists to transform schools?


Alin Bennett  29:13  

To think the very first step is to know the community, you want to be active deeply, as deeply as you can. And that’s why I think the top-down approach of education reform or, or even transformation can not happen from the top because you cannot know every community deeply enough to really have them be active in their own transformation. So I think the very first step was if you want to help activate a community, focus on the community and know them so deeply that you feel like you’re a part of it if you’re not a part of it.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  29:47  

Yes. And something that most people don’t know about you.


Alin Bennett  29:55  

I like to say I sort of alluded to it, but education is actually a second career for me. I was Get it out of pursuing education. I’ve always loved it. I always love learning and supporting others as I was growing up, and I was coached out of education in high school, because it may not have been lucrative. And I read and I, I jumped into a web page and graphic design back in the late 90s, early 2000s. Because, you know, I thought that was the future where everything is going to become wealthy and successful there. And I did it for about a year after getting my first degree, and I’m like, Oh, my gosh, I’m miserable. So I was like, let me start over. And back to my original passion.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  30:39  

I love it. And I think that’s a really big plus in learner-centered schools is his kids really get to explore a lot of these passions and say, Oh, I love animals. I want to be a vet. It’s like, Oh, I didn’t know how I feel sad when I’m in the vet office doing an internship. I don’t like the setting, I want to try something. So wouldn’t it be great if kids kind of knew more before they went off and got a four-year degree or did some sort of an internship?


Alin Bennett  31:09  

Yeah, and even more powerful than that, I think not only will be able to experience the field itself. But then there are realities and inequities that exist in the working world, even if you’ve loved, if you love the that put your face coming up against realities and equity, inequities that are that dampen that passion or that love, you may just leave anyways. So if we can build a skill to help kids pursue their passion, but also navigate all of the pitfalls and inequities that exist within that given field, in a way that is structured to help them process that in a healthy way. I think that’s as valuable as helping them pursue different passions is of helping them navigate the world in real-time. And not like in a laboratory set up in the world. In the world itself.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  31:57  

Yes. Yes, I agree. Alin, I’d love to end my interview with a magic wand moment. So if you had a magic wand, what would you wish for, for all of our learners to experience?


Alin Bennett  32:15  

I am going to say a sense of love and belonging in whatever environment they are, even if they’re not yet in a motor centered environment, and they’re still part of the convention if they magically if I could magically make them feel loved and belong in the adults, Incorporated practice to make them feel loved. And like a sense of belonging. That would be it was gonna go bolder, but I think that one is attainable. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  32:47  

Now, I think Mic drop. Absolutely. And during this pandemic, we’ve seen that more than ever, that our kids just need to be seen and valued as humans and to feel loved up in the midst of all of this uncertainty. You know, if they don’t quite get through their algebra two curricula, the world will go on. But if they feel lost, and like they’re not seen or heard or valued, the world may not go on for them. So I think you nailed it. Elin, thank you so much for being on the education evolution podcast today. I really am impressed with what education reimagined does, and can’t wait to be a student in the Learning Lab this summer.


Alin Bennett  33:30  

Oh, and we’re so excited to have you and folks from your team or your team join. And, yeah, it’s gonna be a great, great environment. And we’re looking forward to just supporting individual practitioners, schools, districts, whoever would really love to come and learn more about what we’re up to. Perfect.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  33:53  

I’ll have the links to this, your five components, all of that I’ll have in the show notes so that people have easy access to this great information.


Alin Bennett  34:01  

Yes, yes, please, please reach out to the organization. at any level of interest. Even if it’s just a conversation with me. Please reach out. We love to have this community grow and become a powerful force in the country.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  34:14  

Absolutely. Thanks again, Alin.


Alin Bennett  34:17  

Thank you.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  34:27  

Wow, Alin Bennett and education reimagined are leading us into the future of learning that works for each and every student. Education reimagined five elements were created by bringing all these voices to the table. convergence is the Center for Policy resolution and They organized this 18-month process and came up with this common GPS. And that reminds me of Lindsay, is talking in Episode 61, that we might think we’re on opposite sides of a polarity. But we all have the same GPS, we have the same goals, and we have the same fears. So we can work together from that common goal, especially as Alin said if we can let go of what exists, and think about what would we want? And not how can we fix what we have, but what do we want, and then maybe starting from scratch, or maybe starting a school within a school or a pocket, going to our community is a huge recommendation, and often overlooked. But our community is a wealth of classroom learning opportunities outside of the traditional classroom. And if we can be deeply knowing who our community is, and a part of that, then we have a chance to create that mission together. I know in Episode 39, with Jenny and Danielle, they talked about that’s where they started in Edgecombe County. And then it became a micro School of innovation in their middle school, and then a whole middle school, and then a whole human-centered high school as well. But it was the community coming together and creating that. So we have to look at our community and then look at what learning what credit can we give for work that’s happening out in the community, you’re in the youth orchestra. Wow, you’re practicing three nights a week with this youth orchestra? How could that tie into a music credit? So we can blend our current credit system with lots of community opportunities, and that’s where we don’t have to live in one polarity or the other. And we can take the upside of both. I also appreciated Alin, clarifying the agency is not the same as the choice. We get lazy and call student agency voice and choice. But it’s so much more. It’s the whole conversation. And what are the parameters? It’s truly not the Red Sox, blue Sox, you get to choose which one that is not the agency is here. The competencies here are what you’re gonna have to demonstrate. How are you even going to go about this? Do you want to do some design thinking? What will it look like? Who is your audience and letting the students own it knowing the rules and knowing the outcomes that they need? So I’m glad that he unpacked that because the choice can be done I want strawberry or chocolate 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  37:54  

This is so much bigger than a forced choice agency is the student’s voice, the students passion the students getting to have a big say in their learning. When we talk about students having agency and tying in the community, we can be super agile. And we can really be focusing on place-based learning and Episode Four with Tom Vander Ark, unpacked a lot of that, and the book that they wrote last year, and how we can really benefit from our community. So I hope that you’ll give some of these podcasts a listen. And I am going to post the different resources that Alin mentioned. And if you’re just starting this journey of reimagining education, I encourage you to sign up for education reimagined, just a weekly newsletter, and I’ll put that link in the show notes as well. See what others are doing here other ways to frame the conversation. And then think about if you can be more of that person that Alin aspires to where the passion is so obvious that the whole human life is poured into that passion. Our youth deserve passionate innovators, helping to create learner-centered and agency-driven schools so that all students are thriving and successful. Thank you for joining me today.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  39:45  

If you’re finding yourself thinking, I need to do this in my school. Let’s talk about it. I consult with schools to help them find new innovative solutions to reaching every student. Let’s put together an action plan. Visit education backslash consults to book a call and let’s get started.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  40:17  

Education evolution listeners, you are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen, heard, valued, and thriving. We need you. Let’s go out and reach every student today. I’d be so grateful if you’d head over to your podcast app to give a great rating and review if you found this episode valuable. Don’t wait. Please do it right now before you forget. I really appreciate it. Thank you for listening, signing off. I am Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education.


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