"We must recognize that the status quo is comfortable for many adults. But comfort should never come at the cost of our students' potential."
- AJ Crabill, Former School Board Member and Author
No matter where your starting point, there is ALWAYS room to grow. Creating a great school is a continuous journey that begins with a simple yet powerful decision: the decision to change.
AJ Crabill, former school board member, author, and upcoming MTSS Summit Keynote Speaker, shared on the Schoolin’ Around podcast that adult transformation is key to changing education. As a tough student himself, he recognized the power that adults have in helping students achieve their own greatness. “I was the most hard-headed student you've probably ever encountered, and so the reality is, there's some teachers who sliced through a lot of foolishness that I put out on the table.”
“It’s easy to be fired up about trying to stand in the pathway of the next generation of little AJs who may not yet fully embraced their own power, their own capacity, their own hopes, and dreams, that we could create a pathway that can allow them to stand in their own greatness, that’s super easy to get fired up about.”
Embracing Continuous Improvement
Change is hard, especially when it requires adults to question long-established practices and beliefs. AJ Crabill acknowledges that resistance to change is a formidable barrier in education and requires a shift in perspective. School boards, leaders, and educators must be willing to challenge their assumptions, reevaluate their strategies, and, most importantly, embrace a culture of continuous improvement.
And, transformation in education isn't a solitary endeavor. It requires the collaboration of all stakeholders, including school boards, educators, parents, and communities. AJ Crabill underscores the importance of building strong partnerships. "We must break down the silos that exist between adults in education. Collaboration is our most potent weapon for positive change."
The Imperative of Change
AJ Crabill's insights underscore that great schools are not a distant dream; they are an achievable reality. The transformation hinges on the willingness of adults within the education system to change. "Our students deserve our unwavering commitment to their success. To provide that, we must be willing to change, adapt, and grow.”
Larissa Napolitan is the Digital Content Creator for Branching Minds and the host of Branching Minds' podcast "Schoolin' Around." As a former middle school English teacher and instructional coach, she has over 13 years of experience building systems for improvement, training and coaching teachers in new technology and instructional methods, and leading efforts to build curriculum and literacy initiatives. She holds Masters's degree in Curriculum and Instruction and Education Administration from Emporia State University. Not only is she passionate about using her experience and academic knowledge, but loves to use her writing and voice to make a broader impact on education, teachers, and students.