Transformational Learning and Leadership
Chapter: Preface to Transformational Learning & Leadership

Why I’m excited to share this paper with you

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-6-52-03-pmDespite lots of progress, we are still far from where we want to be on student outcomes as a network. I don’t mean to diminish the extraordinary work happening: there are incredible teachers working hard and achieving amazing results with children. And, at the same time,  we are all working hard to try to dramatically multiply the number of classrooms empowering students to be on a transformative life path. That energy and commitment is why I’m so excited about what’s in this paper. We have a collective opportunity here.

  • There is untapped potential in the insights from transformational classrooms around the world. We are not learning enough from, acting on, challenging, and spreading the patterns of transformational classrooms. Astonishingly, these classrooms look more like each other than the classrooms next door to them. As a result, we are able to draw patterns from them. The actionable insights from these patterns—about what differentiates these teachers’ aspirations, actions, and orientation—offer enormous potential to change how we pursue our work. As a network, we have a unique, historic opportunity to learn from transformational classrooms around the world.
  • At the same time, we have a ‘cut and paste’ problem. The impulse to see something working in one context, take it, and apply it to our own context is strong. We at Teach For All do it. Partners do it. It’s a natural temptation that comes from a good place. And, sometimes it’s the right thing to do. But sometimes this instinct can hold us back in the long-term. A key learning from transformational classrooms is that outcomes, mindsets, and actions are aligned to a local vision of student success. The classrooms seeing the most success are showing us that ‘cutting and pasting’ rubrics and frameworks just don’t lead to the transformational student outcomes we aspire to. (Though that doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes smartly leverage and customize them.) Instead, we see teachers who are oriented to a local student vision, and are aligning their every decision, judgement,  and action to it.

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-6-45-31-pmAll that said… we need something to go off of! Programs need an aspiration of outcomes, actions, and mindsets because it’s unconscionable to not guide and support novice teachers. It’d be a missed opportunity to not push off of the strongest classrooms of innovators and learners in this network. This document is an attempt to help us do that.

This is also our best bet as a network for communal success. If each one of us, regardless of role, learns from, challenges, and innovates on the transformational leadership and learning happening in strong classrooms, we will build an ecosystem oriented to cultivating the leadership of our students. (An ecosystem that stands in stark contrast to the current systems failing students.) And, I believe we would raise the floor and the ceiling for teacher performance. I mentioned my belief in the potential of diverse, cohort-based leadership and of communal success. That’s what is possible here — local and global ecosystems continuously growing, leading, and learning from transformational teacher and student leaders who are contributing to a peaceful, inclusive, and sustainable world.

How to Experience this Stuff

Our hope is that this “provocation paper” provokes you to find helpful and actionable implications for your training and support models from some of our network’s strongest classrooms. You’ll find that there’s no “use tomorrow” tool here, but rather a set of experiences and resources designed to help you create and evolve your own “use tomorrow” tools (and we’ll learn from your efforts).


You’ll find that there’s no “use tomorrow” tool here, but rather a set of experiences and resources to help you create and evolve your own “use tomorrow” tools. 

We’ll take many virtual trips together.screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-6-43-55-pmWe’ll visit Nepal to learn about ultimate aims and building purpose with communities when we discuss Contextualized Vision. We’ll explore transformational broader student outcomes through the Maya Musical in India. We’ll explore identity and the challenges of navigating systemic injustices in New Zealand. We’ll learn how teachers and organizations use reflection to re-ground, re-orient, grow, and renew in Denver. We’ll visit a lot of classrooms to see how children and teachers are pulling off transformational impact — from Denver to Sofia, rural Peru to London. Pack your virtual bags, friends!

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Sarabeth Berman
Sarabeth Berman
3 years ago

Hi there! I’m testing if this posts.