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Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, struggled to compete with big market teams. The A’s had a low payroll. Their organization would spend years developing young talent only to lose them to teams like the Red Sox and the Yankees and their deep pockets once the players became stars.
Instead of playing the same game, Beane brought on an economist by trade (Peter Brand) to change how they assessed talent. Brand created algorithms that measured players’ contributions to winning games instead of only traditional stats. They found undervalued players in the free agent market, signed them, and their team began to win.
“Adapt or die” comes from Beane (played by Brad Pitt in the movie Moneyball about this true story) in one conversation with a colleague. He constantly met resistance from his manager and his baseball scouts who struggled to examine their beliefs and change their practices. In the end credits, it was noted that Beane’s innovative approach was eventually adopted by the Boston Red Sox and other successful teams.
A Whole New Game
The pandemic forced schools to rethink how we facilitate teaching and learning. Literacy instruction was mediated through technologies like Zoom, not originally intended for education. Learning management systems became commonplace. Our learning curve was steep, yet we did succeed in many ways.
As the pandemic starts to recede, will we go back to business as usual? Some students and parents are not. Whether they are opting to protect their kids from racial hostility and bias or they have discovered that education can happen remotely, families now see options.
How we respond going forward will be telling. If we continue to operate as if the traditional school structure is the only game in town, it might be a lost opportunity for positive change. And what might this change look like? Consider the following questions to guide your reflection for how we might adapt to these new conditions.
What challenges and inequities did the pandemic reveal in your learning community?
How can you gather information from all stakeholders to inform your thinking?1
What opportunities are possible? For example, how might a blended (online + in-person) learning experience work when teaching readers and writers?
How have you grown these past two years? How might you improve this year?
My upcoming book (Febraury 2020) was writtin during the pandemic and documents my own learning as an educational leader. Pre-order today!
We surveyed our school’s families in June 2020 about our initial remote learning experience. You can read our findings below.