A few small steps can be the beginning of a grand journey and it similarly takes just a few small changes to start a revolution. This is the message that Dave Levin, Co-founder of KIPP schools, is spreading in his effort to change our education system. I was lucky to hear Levin speak this past week. In addition to his charming and funny delivery, he presented one simple idea that stuck with me.
According to Levin, we can begin to revolutionize the education system by providing each student with 5 minutes of structured academic feedback from their teacher everyday. Teachers would touch base with each child in their class daily and give them direct feedback on their strengths & weaknesses. Levin revealed that in his work, talking to teachers, he could not find one that said this was a current practice in their classroom. They were conferencing with students and spending one-on-one time, but they couldn’t honestly say they spoke to each student, each day. This was surprising! Our schools are wrapped around the individual needs of our students, there is no one-size fits all model. Schools will thrive when our students are taught on an individualized basis. Teachers are already getting to know their students, the next step is providing the direct feedback Levin so passionately spoke of. This feedback can and will link back to the character skills necessary for success. In fact, character skills are the Yin to the Yang of traditional skill based education.
Five minutes with each child is a doable goal – it’s achievable. While sweeping change may be overwhelming, small steps can feel empowering. I was fully inspired by Levin’s talk – I could have listened to him for an hour. I can only hope others are listening too.