Camp is Head of Teaching & Learning at NEIA. He oversees the development of systems to recruit, hire, support, and evaluate teachers and helps teachers develop and implement the curriculum. He’s been a leader and a teacher at a variety of schools throughout his 29-year career: boarding, day, single-sex and college.

Show Highlights

‘Aim to teach what cannot be googled.’

NIA’s unique mashed up of 5 different assessment systems for mastery learning.

A needed mindset shift to let go of rigid structures and embrace innovative approaches.

‘X Days’ for teaching and learning flexibility with integration across subjects and collaboration.

Transforming traditional school systems through the power of letting go.

Unlearning traditional methods among parents, students, and staff

Strategies for effectively communicating changes and supporting stakeholders through transitions and school policies.

Avoids siloed learning with ‘Spiraling Curriculum.’

Targeted feedback with single panel rubric feedback feedback

“We have a mindset that we’re going to be flexible. We’re going to help you achieve the things you want to achieve or pursue the things you want to pursue. And for a lot of students, especially post Covid in this day and age of AI and everything else, that helping a student navigate an academic path that they have some ownership in is really liberating.”
- John Camp

“My biggest thing for Ruckus Makers is to make sure you have the courage to change education. We’re relying on you to be a Ruckus Maker. We’re relying on you. We need you to do that. Otherwise the inertia of the system will steamroll and just keep going. And so, yes, as we’ve talked about, being a Ruckus Maker is not for everybody, and it’s not easy. If you have that feeling inside at all about change, we’re relying on you to do it. Get out there and do it. Act outside the box and get it done.”
- John Camp

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Read the Transcript here.

“Breaking the Mold – Transforming Traditional School Systems”

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
Thanks for hitting play. And I’ll tell you this, if you feel like a square peg trying to fit into the round hole of education, you’re in the right place. And I will say, too, that today’s guest with nearly three decades of experience in education has felt has lived the square peg life trying to fit into the round hole of education and has done a lot about it. More on that in just a second. I’m Danny Bauer, and this is the Better Leaders, Better Schools podcast, the original Ruckus Maker podcast for visionary leaders who want to do school differently and make a legendary impact on their campus. Thanks to Ruckus Makers just like you, this show ranks in the top 0.5% of over 3 million worldwide podcasts.

In today’s show, I speak with Camp, who is the head of teaching and learning at the New England Innovation Academy, otherwise known as NIA. He oversees the development of systems to recruit, hire, support, and evaluate teachers, and helps teachers develop and implement the curriculum. He’s been a leader and a teacher at a variety of schools throughout his 29 year career, from boarding to day school, single sex, and college. His experience includes English and writing classes, as well as interdisciplinary courses such as the art and physics of time travel. At St. Mark’s school, which bestowed him with the trustees chair and the Kidder Faculty prize, camp served as the director of experiential learning and associate director of the center of Innovation in Teaching and Learning.

A pair of his pedagogical mantras include I aim to teach what cannot be googled, and I expect you to work hard. So I work hard. Now, we cover a lot of topics, starting with what it’s like to even begin to operate as a startup, as a school. Because NIA was founded three years ago, we also talk about how they’re innovating right and making a ruckus in education. You’ll hear about something called x days and a mashup of five different systems to create their assessment system. And you’ll hear a few stories as well. That makes the concepts that are big in terms of scale concrete so that you can be right in the moment and hear how it works.

We provide the website URL in the show notes, but in case you want to check out NIA’s work too, go to neiacademy.org to learn more. So once again, thanks for listening, and we’ll be right back after a quick message from our show sponsors. Hey Ruckus Maker, I’ll make this quick. If you’re listening to this message right now, you’re missing out. When you subscribe to the Ruckus Maker newsletter on Substack, you get access to micro books focused on how to do school, different tools and other resources that will help you make a ruckus and do squirrel different stories and case studies of the world’s most legendary Ruckus Makers of all time. Access to my calendar to schedule coaching sessions, and you’ll also get bonus podcast content that won’t be released on the main podcast feed and podcast episodes without any advertisements.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
So if you love this show, if it’s helped you grow and you want access to more tools and resources that will help you make a ruckus and do school different and become a paid subscriber at ruckusmakers.substack.com. As a principal with so much to do, you might be thinking constantly, where do I even start? It’s a good question, and that’s why I created a twelve month principal checklist just for you. When you download it for free, you’re going to get a twelve month checklist that identifies general tasks that every campus will want to do each month. But the checklist also includes space where you can write campus specific items and two opportunities to reflect on what worked and what you want to continue doing and what didn’t work and what you want to change or improve.

When you take action on this checklist for a year, you will have built a leadership playbook for your school, and you won’t have to reinvent the wheel or feel like a first year principal all over again. Go to betterleadersbetterschools.com/PrincipleChecklist to download for free. Right now, IXL is a go to support for classroom teachers because its adaptive platform makes differentiated instruction easy. See for yourself and get started [email protected]. Leaders that’s ixl.com leaders, an instructional coach in every teacher’s pocket. That’s what we’re creating. At TeachFX, teachers record audio of a lesson, and then they receive an AI powered report with instructional insights such as, how much are my students talking? How much am I talking? How can I use wait time or questioning to create space for my students to learn out loud? Learn how TeachFX could help your teachers get students talking. Visit teachfx.com/ruckus. When you work with Quest food management services, you’re going to feel good about the food you serve your students. That’s because the food is real and it’s made from scratch and locally sourced. Learn more about quest food management [email protected] or follow Quest food on social media. That’s questfms.com Welcome to the show.

Hi, Danny. Thanks for having me.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
I told you in the intro call, super excited for this one. You’re doing some very interesting things over at NIA, and we’re going to dig into that. I think you are the epitome of a Ruckus Maker doing school differently.. Making shifts from old, traditional, broken ways of educating to new, different and innovative. I’m going to crawl inside that brilliant mind of yours and try to unpack what lessons and insights we can share here with the Ruckus Maker. I remember in the intro call you said that NIA is like a mashup of five systems. Can you tell me a little more about what you mean by that?

Our school, which is only in year three as a startup school, the amazing opportunity to begin a school here in the 2020s, erodes a lot of the inertia of many years of the way school is always done. So one of the things that I am pretty proud of is our assessment system, which we call a competency based system, but it’s a mashup of competency based, standards based, mastery based, no grade system and traditional system. So we’ve had the opportunity to look at all those systems, study all those systems from experience and practice and put together a system that we think is the most equitable and fair way to assess students. Again, being in year three, we’re not here saying we have all the answers. We’re saying we’re out there being Ruckus Makers for what is the best form of assessment that we have, that we believe in, but that we also take feedback from our stakeholders, which are our students and our colleagues and everything else about how to do that well.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
Can you bring us to a moment or like maybe a student’s working on something and what does that assessment look like?

One of the keys of our system is that assessment methods don’t matter. It could be a quiz, it could be a test, it could be a speech, it could be a project, whatever you want. We’re assessing them on skills that are applied within that assessment. I would say we recently as a, I teach humanities, 9th grade and 12th grade. And I had an assessment that was a project called the world of 8 billion, which focuses on population and a global issue around that. And I had a student who, one of our competencies is, I express through my visual presentation, and the student did a phenomenal side by side interview of themselves about the issue. And to be able to if you only assessed a certain way, be like, oh, that was a b or that was a c, whatever. But we could actually identify the different skills of problem solving. The student was doing that, how they actually made the video, how they projected their voice, those types of things.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
What does the feedback look like for the student in terms of, here’s what we think you did well, and maybe areas for improvement and growth?

We use a single panel rubric, which is different from a traditional rubric, that has the four boxes, three or four boxes with all the criteria in there. We use a single panel rubric which has the base criteria in the middle. And then one side is the exemplary feedback, and on the other side is developing what we call developing feedback. And so in a competency based system, or actually in any assessment system that’s worth its merit at all, it should be based on feedback. So what that system does is it allows us to give feedback, real, targeted feedback, on each one of the competencies that a student performs in an assessment for what they did well and what they could work on. And so literally, when you’re done assessing that, let’s just say an assessment could have one competency, it could have as many as five. Let’s just say you had a four competency assessment. So there’s four skills there. And then when you’re done assessing and giving feedback, the targeted feedback for each one of those skills, you can literally look and see, like, oh, wow. There were comments on both sides of the assessment. Thereforethe student has a good combination of things that need to work on things that are doing well, or if it’s all on the exemplary side, like, wow, that would be traditionally, quote, like a level work, etcetera. Again, the point is that we repeat, we teach the skills throughout the year, so they should take that feedback and apply it for next time they have to do that skill, that sort of thing, which isthe. In my experience, this is my 29th year teaching that having that targeted feedback is really the skill to make. To make the skill actionable for the student, rather than just being like, you did great, or something like that.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
I’m thinking that there’s a lot for maybe faculty, probably students, most likely parents, things to unlearn about school, especially if they choose to come to NIA. Now, maybe the interesting thing is you, I don’t know who applies that kind of thing. Maybe folks are more open minded or looking for a different experience, but still have some slime from the traditional system. Like, but wait, when I was a kid. I’m just curious, like, with those three groups: parents, your students, and then your teaching staff. What did that look like? To communicate some of the things on learning or how it’s different.

The key is communication. You have to communicate what you do and how you do it and how you are changing things. The good thing for us is if you’re coming to work here, you’re applying as a student to come here, or if as a parent, you’re a stakeholder, sending your child to New England innovation academy, the word innovations in the title. So you’re going to get a different experience. However, like you just said, unlearning for some people is difficult no matter what that they are, the way it’s always been. You really do have to be clear and help people unlearn some of the things and communicate as much as possible, which, again, when you’re in the day to day, sometimes get away from you and a parent will be like, well, wait, how would they assess again? And then you just explain it out and be open and honest about how it is you’re doing it and why it’s best for the students. I would say that’s the biggest thing, communication. And the fact that anybody coming here is looking for this type of experience. One of our taglines is where the school of the world needs next. So if you’re looking at NIA, then we know you don’t want what’s always been the way it is. So we have that jump on people when they walk in the door.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
Do you hear parents and stakeholders using that language where we’re choosing NIA because it’s the school we need next?

Maybe not that they might not say the world, the school we need next, but I think definitely they’re choosing NIA for the different type of experience. Like, one thing I would say when students are applying to NIA, a lot of it is that they’re looking for an experience that hasn’t worked for them in the traditional system or we’re very flexible here, like part of my job as the head of teaching and learning is making things work for students with different things they want to pursue. And so a lot of systems will struggle to do that. They just, they can’t do it or they don’t want to deal with the wrangling that has to take place. And for us, we, that’s our mindset. We have a mindset that we’re going to be flexible. We’re going to help you achieve the things you want to achieve or pursue the things you want to pursue. And for a lot of students, especially post Covid in this day and age of AI and everything else, that helping a student navigate an academic path that they have some ownership in and some say is really liberating.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
Let’s talk about that topic. The idea of having a flexible mindset. And I think you use something that NIA called x days

Wwe, so we have a very, if you look at our schedule, like our daily schedule, it’s very traditional, like a seven day cycle with four teaching blocks in a day, which is great. It works. But one of the reasons why we have a seven day schedule is that we want to allow students to take advantage of different things they might have the opportunity to do. Let’s just say a student had an opportunity to do an internship every Wednesday from 2:00 to 04:00 or something, rather than us saying, oh, you can’t do that, we’ll be like, no, you can do that. And the great thing about our seven day schedule is that those classes that you would miss on a Wednesday, which rotates every seven days so you wouldn’t hit the same classes. And then we tell our teachers, like, hey Danny’s got this awesome opportunity. How can we make that not a burden for him? With the work you have in class, how can you adapt that, et cetera, to make it work so that they can have a good experience in the totality of their education, which doesn’t just happen in the walls of NIA. We want to really be attentive to students who can develop their skills in many different places. Yes, we want to nurture them and teach the important skills at NIA. But the most important thing about school in our mindset is they, those skills are not just for school, not just for the game of school. You should be able to take those skills wherever. And if we can help foster that as part of their experience as adolescents, like that’s a game changer, the way we look at it.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
s the X day the same day for.

I didn’t even get to your X day part. So what the X day does is we I, as the head of teaching and learning, somebody needs something. I can be like, all right, say the whole school, we want to do this. I can make an X day. Just drop it. An X day to one of our seven days. Or. And this is something that we’ve gotten creative with. Say the 10th grade is having. The 10th grade math class is doing a project, and then your classes are 65 minutes or 85 minutes, and they’re like, you know what? It would be really helpful to have an intentional 3 hours of work on this project. Like, we can build it all through. The kids can try and fail and get to an end product. And I’d be like, yeah, sounds great. Why don’t we give you an X day, an ex morning on Thursday? So for them, all of 10th grade is doing that for math on that day. Does it mean some other class will miss class? Yeah, but you know what? We’re cool with that. We’ll figure it out. We as teachers will adapt because the most important thing is the relevant and authentic learning that’s going to happen for those students at that moment. We will be as creative with X days as possible, dropping them in, making a whole day the next day, whatever it is we need for the relevant and authentic experience for students.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
That sounds exciting and okay, even if it’s just like your example of the math block and digging deeper into some type of projects for 3 hours, it sounds like if the staff or the students have sort of some interesting project or question they want to solve or whatever the. The schedule is malleable that you can make it happen, if I’m hearing you correctly.

.And we’re willing to do it. Like, we’re willing to embrace that messiness that might happen when you change a schedule rather than say, like, oh, we can’t do that because this is how the schedule is. It’s really about whatever. And to your point, though, like, I did just give a math class example. We at NIA, one of the really important things we do is integrate across subjects as much as possible. The way I like to describe it when I’m interviewing candidates to teachers, that it’s not the exception that you’re integrating here, it’s the expectation. And so that also then creates an opportunity for x days or like special blocks. So that theater, humanities, math teacher can get together and do a project together, that sort of thing.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
It’s all integrated and like you said, not an exception to the rule. It’s as expected, I’m guessing during the interview process, too, you talk about the flexible mindset, need for adaptability, but still. Well, I guess the way I’m thinking about it is this. Ruckus Maker listening is brought into what we’re talking about here. He or she might be creating more Ruckus Makers in their staff, but might have inherited a lot of traditional teachers who might be a little less flexible. We’ll just put it that way as a nice way of saying it. And I’m just curious, I don’t know if issues ever come up on your campus, but what advice would you have for the Ruckus Maker listening in terms of working with their staff to create innovative things and make stuff more flexible for them on their campus?

Obviously, like you said, when I’m interviewing people or our team is interviewing people, we have questions about flexibility or that type of thing. We talk about integration. So coming in that it’s not. You’re just going to come and teach bio and that’s it. Like, that’s not what we’re looking for. But it comes back to that communication aspect as well. We’re upfront, hey, you have to be flexible here. Hey, you’re not just going to teach bio. It’s awesome that you’re a bio expert, but we’re going to want you to teach integrated science. We’re going to want you to do something with the math teacher, that sort of thing. But then I think a lot of people want to be Ruckus Makers. A lot of people want to be like, I want to do this. But then, like you said, there’s a lot of unlearning or just evolving that needs to happen. So you really need supportive people on the ground level to do that. So me being flexible and having an open mind, I’m ready and willing to help support somebody who might be struggling with that. And the more people you have on staff that will create a culture on staff where there’s that support going on, that’s the most important thing because it can be tough. It can say, I would say, like a couple weeks ago, there were like three different sort of x day things going on and somebody would be like, oh, my God, I haven’t seen this group of students for two days, two or three days in a row. And I’m like, oh yeah, I realize that it’s really difficult and I understand that, but what if we think about it this way, that sort of thing. So you have to be understanding and supportive and communicative as much as possible and lean into the uncomfort. Like I think that, yeah, like you, like a lot of people want to be Ruckus Makers, but as you know, it’s hard and it’s challenging and there’s a lot of unlearning to do. But also, like, you bump up against a lot of things and so that’s why I think support and communication is so important to get through that. So you’re not like holding in this angst or this frustration. You could be frustrated. That’s totally part of the gig. But having different people to talk about and work through I think is the biggest thing.
Rather than like in a traditional educational system, just going into your classroom and shutting the door and like being angry.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
Exactly. The communication piece I know the Ruckus Maker will resonate with and I really appreciate you bringing up the support idea as well. I think, like, in my educational experience, it looked like when I was an instructional coach, mentoring, providing feedback to my peers, but still teaching all the things that we talked about in the experiments we wanted to try or whatever, I was doing it right there with them. Right. And would invite my peers consistently into my class to give me feedback even as the instructional coach. Because we can always grow. So I think by learning, by doing and yeah, just putting the money where my mouth was, right. Like it was a good way to show I’m in it with them too. So appreciate that feedback.

I think not every administrator or supervisor can be on the ground level teaching, but for me that’s always been the thing that I won’t give up because I want to be like you just described, doing the work that I’m asking other people to do and to support. And so I know those frustrations. I know what it’s like to brush up against those things. And it also challenges me to think strategically, think creatively, not only for my own work, but also to help support my colleagues 100%.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
I’m really enjoying this conversation. We’re going to pause here just for a second to get some messages in from our sponsors and then when we return we talked about how ruckus making is not for everyone. Right. And so I want to look at the idea of letting go, the power of letting go when we come back, something that drove me nuts as a Ruckus Maker was hearing teachers say, I taught it and the students should have learned it. But really, some teachers just don’t know how to reteach so that all kids get it. That’s where Excel comes in. IXL’s diagnostic automatically identifies knowledge gaps for teachers and provides them with a personalized growth plan for each individual student. Teachers can step into the classroom every day knowing what their students know and what they don’t.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
IXL’s adaptive platform makes differentiating instruction easy. As students learn, IxL adjusts to the right level of difficulty for each individual. Close knowledge gaps and accelerate learning with IXL. Get started [email protected]. Leaders. That’s ixl.com leaders. What do you see in your classrooms and how did you see it? As a principal, you can’t be everywhere at once, so how can you help support every teacher in the building? With Teach FX, teachers can gather their own feedback without relying on classroom observations. The Teach FX instructional coaching app is like giving every teacher their own instructional coach whenever they want it. Ruckus Makers can pilot TeachFX with their teachers. Visit teachfx.com/betterleaders to learn how.For some students, the meal or two you serve them, that’s going to be it. That’s what they get for the day. Which means we’ve got to get this right. Quest food Management Services elevates the student dining experience, serving scratch made meals using high quality ingredients that are sourced locally and responsibly. Now, you might be thinking, okay, Danny, I get it, the food’s high quality, but do the students eat it and enjoy it? Bottom line, students love the food. Quest is one of the fastest growing companies in the school food service industry and has been consistently ranked in the top 50 food service providers by food Management magazine. Learn more about Quest food management [email protected], or follow Quest food on social media. That’s questfms.com dot. All right, and we’re back here with camp, the head of teaching and learning at NIA, which is a very innovative school out there in Massachusetts, and super excited to tell their story today.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
Prior to the break, we talked about how being a Ruckus Maker, it’s not for everyone. It’s probably not, yeah, for most people. And it’s sort of a foundational aspect of this work is being able to let go. The power of letting go. What do you think about that stuff?

We’ve talked about mindset during our conversation today, and I have let go tattooed on my wrists so that I can have a reminder of that mindset as much as possible. Because so much in education, what I think is fascinating about education is it’s so personal. Teachers are super passionate about what they’re teaching. Kids, like, really care about what they’re doing. And even if they don’t care if they get a bad grade, it sets them back. Like, all this type of stuff. It’s an incredibly personal enterprise, which makes letting go just so important because otherwise you hold on to these things that sometimes you can’t control. For many years of my professional career, being a Ruckus Maker, bumping up against things that I couldn’t control, at some point, you have to really ascertain what you can let go and what you need to keep challenging and fighting up against. But that can be a delicate balance, and not everybody has, in my opinion, you always gotta be thinking about letting go. Like, what can you let go? What can you not let go? And having that lens through which to look at things. Because if there’s. If you can’t let go of something and it’s never going to change, then you’re going to be in trouble and vice versa the other way. So one of my favorite quotations is if you can’t change something, change the way you think about it. And I think that is, that helps me with letting go. I’m going to let go of this one other thing, why I think about it differently and maybe I can come at it from that angle.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
This show’s been around a while, so this was like 2015 when I was using this quote. But I think I used to end the show that life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of, like, how you think about it or react to it. And that’s the thing is, like, often the change that needs to happen is one that’s inside. Especially when we’re talking about these big systemic changes that we want to make. That’s the first step. And often an overlooked one. I love that you have the reminder. It’s imprinted on your skin. I’m sure that event is a catalyst for many great conversations with students and staff. I bet, too.

I think the one thing about students we’re a seven through twelve school, like, the students actually, they’re able to let go of things quickly because they go from, I’m blown away by the educational system, too, that this is why I like x days, that a student goes from math to science to theater. They take four or five classes a day and have to change their thought process many times during the day. A student’s able to actually let things go because they’re thrust right into something else, whereas we as teachers, like, this is our thing and we can hold on to it. I think that just having the mindset and always thinking about it’s really important because it’s a crazy world that we. That we work here, in schools.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
Yeah, it is. Sure is. What is the. What’s the concept of spiraling?

I mentioned earlier that we integrate across subjects, but we also integrate within our subject areas here. We teach what we call integrated math, integrated science, humanities. Integrated. So the spiraling we do within a subject area, like science, say, is rather than take bio, then chem, then physics, we spiral those concepts throughout each year that they’re in school. So that by the end of an upper school experience, you’ve had the equivalent of a full year biochem, etcetera. But you’re not doing it in siloed form, that you’re spiraling. We’re spiraling the skills and concepts of each of those disciplines throughout, through. Dramatically through each year, which is how real science works anyway. But you see it even more so in math, whereas very typically, a student takes geometry, and then the next year, it’s January, and they’re like, oh, remember those geometry concepts?
And they don’t. You have to go back and do those things. Integrated math, the whole concept is to spiral those concepts so that students are hitting them, hitting them so that they become more. I don’t know, foundational, part of. Just part of their daily routine.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
It’s front and center. It’s like, okay, it’s not, oh, the thing we learned three years ago, it’s just more ingrained into the day to day experience, is what I’m hearing. So awesome. I’m curious, NIA has been doing this great work for three years. It’s an exciting and interesting project to be a startup school. So are there any, like, high level lessons that you can share to the Ruckus Maker listening that they can steal, borrow, and adapt from your experience?

There are a lot of lessons and starting a school. I used to joke as a teacher, I would say to my students, like, someday when I open my own school. We’ll do assessment this way or we’ll do this way. And having the opportunity to literally start a school from year zero is amazing. And again, to a lot of your listeners out there, won’t have that opportunity. But I would say the key, though, is having that mindset. We’ve been talking about mindset a lot, to make changes that you want, that you think should be made to start doing that. And I would say that’s probably the biggest lesson that we don’t.
Part of being a startup school is that almost everything we do is iterative, like, oh, yeah, that worked great, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to work great again and we’re not going to rest on our laurels. That worked great. So I think the main lesson is that it’s challenging, but that you have to just keep powering through and always have an open mindset to be iterating what it is that you do. So there’s that. The other major lesson for me is I like to look in the mirror and be like, you have to be awesome today. This is a new enterprise. You’re innovating school like it’s you have to step up, you might be tired, whatever, you got to get it done. And I like that. I really like that challenge of showing up at the school each day knowing that we call ourselves an innovative school. I’d better be innovative today. I better be thinking about how I am doing things differently? How am I doing things to be more relevant to students? And then the other major takeaway or challenge I would have is that we’ve already talked about that. A lot of people think they want innovation or think they want something different, but then they’re just so the tentacles of the past and how things have always been is really difficult to let go. You have to be patient as you’re going through that with your stakeholders. Oh, and then that’s the last thing, too, I would say, listen to your stakeholders.

Obviously if some of the listeners out there are part of huge districts and things like that can be hard. But we, for most things that we do here, we talk to students, staff, parents about different decisions that we’re going to make because they’re the ones who rather than admins or a group of people just making a decision in a room, even though that decision might be great and you might feel like it’s the right thing to do,I’m trying to tap into the stakeholders who are actually doing the thing you’re asking to do is probably one of the biggest takeaways that we’ve experienced.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
Great advice, for sure. So we’ve been telling NIAs story, and before I get to the questions that I ask everybody, was there anything about your school or the startup process that I missed in an ass that you’d like to share here with the Ruckus Maker listening?

No, I appreciate the opportunity to share out of conversations like this. Like, I talk about assessments all day. I think that having this will probably be part of my advice overall is that throughout my career, assessment would probably be the thing in education that I’ve most delved into, like all the different systems and things like that. I’ve experimented, I tried a no grade system, standards based system, was told, you can’t do that, and then figured out, like, okay, I gotta let that go, but how can I work on it this way? I think that aspect of NIA, in being able to experiment but then also fail and then be like, okay, I need to fix that right away. Fixing that quickly is another thing that’s good. You can’t, like, when something doesn’t work, you have to be able to respond quickly and brush it off because you’re trying to do something new and innovative and you can’t sulk.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
Yeah, that’s the guiding question. How am I going to innovate today? So just for a Ruckus Maker listening, NIA, as we talked about, that stands for New England Innovation Academy. So if you go to neacademy.org, you can see some of the cool stuff that they are up to. So camp, I know that you got this. We’ll get to that question in a second. Let’s start with the marquee. If you could put a message on all school marquees around the world for a single day, what would camp’s message be?

Yeah, I love this question. It would be, don’t think outside the box. Act outside the box.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
And here you are. I know you started to help start the school, but as a thought experiment, let’s say now you’re building your dream school. You’re not constrained by any resources, your only limitations, your ability to imagine what would be the three guiding principles building this school.

You know what’s fascinating about that question, Danny, is like ten years ago, I wonder what I would consider that question. Whereas now, having literally been able to be part of the startup school, I probably definitely have a different lens. But this is what I would say now, having had experience doing it, is to pursue equity through policy, like equity. In my opinion, the most important thing is that you can provide the landscape for students and you do that through policy. So pursue equity through policy. I mentioned this a few minutes ago, my other guiding principle would be to use a human centered process to involve stakeholders and decisions that are made. And then the last thing, again, this has been cool about our conversations.
We’ve hit on a bunch of these things, is to teach and create with a relevant and future focused mindset.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
Jeff yeah, awesome. Well, we covered a lot of ground today, camp of everything we discussed. What’s the one thing you want a Ruckus Maker to remember?

The one. I just want to thank you, Dan, for the opportunity to talk with you. It’s awesome. I really appreciate it. I love swapping ideas back and forth. My biggest thing for Ruckus Makers is to make sure you have the courage to change education. We’re relying on you to be a Ruckus Maker. We’re relying on you. We need you to do that. Otherwise the inertia of the system will steamroll and just keep going. And so, yes, as we’ve talked about, being a Ruckus Maker is not for everybody, and it’s not easy. If you have that feeling inside at all about change, we’re relying on you to do it. Get out there and do it. Act outside the box and get it done.

Chief Ruckus Maker Danny
Thanks for listening to the better leaders Better Schools podcast Ruckus Maker. How would you like to lead with confidence, swap exhaustion for energy, turn your critics into cheerleaders and so much more? The Ruckus Maker Mastermind is a world class leadership program designed for growth minded school leaders just like you. Go to betterleadersbetterschools.com mastermind, learn more about our program and fill out the application. We’ll be in touch within 48 hours to talk how we can help you be even more effective. And by the way, we have cohorts that are diverse and mixed up. We also have cohorts just for women in leadership and a BIPOC only cohort as well. When you’re ready to level up, go to betterleadersbetterschools.com mastermind and fill out the application. Thanks again for listening to the show. Bye for now and go make a ruckus.



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