Envision Summer Accelerator

Historically, education has been the least nimble of all of our institutions.  Walk into classrooms across the country and many of them have not changed significantly in 150 years.  We are trying to shift the way that schools organize and engage all students in meaningful deeper learning so that every young person has the skills they need to be their most fully expressed selves as they go out into the world.  The Summer Accelerator borrows structures that support innovation and rapid prototyping from the tech and business sectors. This will be an intensive, immersive experience during which inclusive school design teams consisting of adults and students will learn, imagine, and plan for how we might redesign school models to better serve all students.

We are using an equity-centered design model for both the experience that the teams will go through, as well as for the lens through which they will be designing. There will be structured learning experiences in the first half of each day, and supported work time/office hours with access to experts in the second half.  Each day will end with some type of feedback loop during which teams will present something with which they are grappling and receive thought partnership from the larger group so that they can move forward the following day. By the final day, each team will leave with a prototype of a Graduate Profile, performance outcomes associated with each skill they selected, and a plan for what component of their system they will begin to test the prototype.  The school design teams will come from the 5 Envision Education schools: Envision Academy High School and Middle Grades in Oakland, City Arts & Technology High School in San Francisco, and Impact Academy of Arts & Technology High School and Middle Grades in Hayward, as well as from one of our client schools in Madison, WI.

Each school design team is intended to be as representative of diverse voices and perspectives as possible. Schools are required to bring teams that include at least the following: 1 administrator, 2 teachers from different grade/subject/experience levels, and 2 students from different grade/experience levels. Schools may choose to add more to their teams if possible and/or relevant. This will be the first year that we are piloting the Summer Accelerator, so we are wanting to keep the participant list manageable and targeted to schools who are in a similar phase of readiness for transformation.

The mission of Envision Schools is to transform the lives of students – especially those who will be first in their family to attend college – by preparing them for success in college, career, and life. Our high schools were all created with an arts & technology focus in terms of curriculum because we believe that young people need skills of creativity and technology in order to be successful in today and tomorrow’s jobs. Our students primarily come from underrepresented populations in tech – 75% of them qualify for free and reduced lunch, 72% of them will be first in their family to attend college, and 90% are students of color. We are working to create systems of education that allow all students to see themselves in any career of their choosing, specifically encouraging them to consider tech and tech-related fields as vibrant and viable options. The goal of the Summer Accelerator is to situate equity at the center of our thinking and planning at every level such that we work towards creating more inclusive educational systems for students in Oakland and beyond.

The Accelerator planning is being wonderfully lead by ELP team member, Abby, learn more about her in this post, and is being supported by a long-time deeper learning colleague and thought leader around equity in education, Shane Safir.

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