When last we spoke, I found myself positioned on a precipice, anxiously confronting the torrent that was Race to the Top. And as mandate after mandate continued to crash and swirl around me, threatening to pull everything and everyone I care about in this field into a hot mess of high emotion and utter chaos, I made an important and very deliberate decision: I put my head down and quietly got to work with all of the administrators and teachers I’m responsible for serving locally each day. I refused to indulge the frustration, panic, and rage that swelled around me, because I knew that if I did, it would make me useless to the people I’m responsible for serving. I also refused to pretend to have any real answers, because I certainly didn’t.

I had many dilemmas to resolve and much to learn before I could share my work with any measure of confidence.

So I’m sorry, but there was no way I could blog about anything last year.

Instead, I drew my inner circle around me tight. I built wider and deeper connections with local administrators and teachers who truly understood the unique strengths and needs of their systems and students. We tested a ton of promising and pretty unique approaches for curriculum design, instruction, and assessment. I’ll share the good, the bad, and the ugly here in coming weeks and months, but here’s the only thing I know for certain: despite the intense dissonance that punctuated the induction of Race to the Top and likely contributed to the full body rash that I experienced for twelve weeks last spring (I’m so not kidding), this has been the best year of my professional life. Without a doubt.

I’ve never had my thinking pushed as hard as I have this year. I’ve never facilitated deeper learning within and beyond classrooms. I’ve never watched my assumptions unravel so beautifully before. And I have never been this amazed or humbled by the administrators, kids, or teachers that I continue to work with every single day.

I have never learned more in a single year.

And it all started with lesson study.






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