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How to Introduce “the Why” by Distinctive Schools

Even before moving to moving to blended and personalized learning, CICS West Belden was a high-performing elementary school in Chicago. However, in staffwide conversations, the team realized they needed to keep pushing to help students develop all of the skills they needed to succeed, beyond just test scores.

To elucidate their "why," staff rallied around three major reasons for change:

1. Despite strong scores, educators were feeling like student growth was stagnating. They needed to find a way to meet each student’s needs more effectively, individually.

2. Leaders wanted to increase student engagement and ownership around learning, which meant they needed greater flexibility and opportunities for students to make choices and have input.

3. Teachers were excited and ready to grow their skills and approaches.

West Belden used these as jumping off points for designing their new approach for change (the “how” [process], as well as the “what” [outputs]) and to engage their community along the way.

This slide deck provides an overview of this journey, and covers topics such as mindset, culture, and the design thinking process.

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