On Saturday, my Time to Succeed colleague Julia and I headed to Harvard University in Cambridge to talk with some students. No, not those Harvard Square students. We joined the Students for Education Reform National Summit and got to see up close the excitement and enthusiasm of the next generation of leaders.
The students came from across the country to learn about how to build coalitions and mobilize their students towards action in education reform. They listened to local and national leaders, participated in discussions and networked amongst themselves. And then they came into a ‘recruitment fair’ where they heard from dozens of organizations who are looking for their energy to help move the needle in education – whether as teachers, corps members, or in our case, as chapter leaders back at their schools. We simply wanted to tell more students about the power of expanding learning time and TSC with the hopes they could tell their fellow students about it and we’d inspire some chapters to work with us on this in their communities and states in the coming months and years.
The students themselves were impressive – from East Carolina University and University of Chicago, New York University and Tufts University. Their passion and desire to change the K-12 system was evident. What was even more inspiring, though, was that they saw themselves as collaborators and representing a broad group back at their schools. They planned to gather the information, discuss it with their fellow chapter members, and decide whether ELT makes sense for their chapter to pursue as an issue. That type of thinking and conversation is just what we’re hoping to spark among communities around the country around ELT. Does expanded learning time make sense for our school or community? What could we do with more and better learning time? What are the benefits and drawbacks? Sometimes the answer will be a resounding ‘Yes, let’s move forward!’ and other times a ‘This does not makes sense for us’. Even if a school community decides that ELT is not for them, so often it’s the conversation itself that matters.