Running a Simple StartUp project in your school is really exciting and an amazing opportunity to students. BUT it can go against what the traditional model for education and school looks like to many people, including your administration. You may be asked to explain what a Simple StartUp project is, including things such as:
- learning outcomes
- essential questions
- standards met
- checks for understanding
- assessments of your learning objectives
- accommodations for behavioral and educational needs
This list goes on... Sometimes this is due to the personality of your admin, and sometimes it’s the questions that they are required to ask of any new project that happens in their building. If you haven’t walked in an administrator’s shoes for a day, it can be hard to understand the stances they are taking and the hoops that are being presented for you to jump through. Without knowing your school district or building leaders, I can’t make a statement about whether they are being over-the-top, abusing their position of power, or simply doing their job as directed by those above them in the chain of command. However, there are things you can do to be proactive when deciding to bring The Simple StartUp to your school!
- Create your own elevator pitch. Imagine this was a business idea of your own, you would want a clear and succinct way of explaining what it was to anyone of importance that asked you. We ask our students to do the exact same thing in anticipation of stakeholders, such as customers, suppliers, investors, judges, or administration asking them about their business. Anticipate the questions you are likely to be asked and prepare answers for them. What are your goals for the project? Who will need to get involved to help it run smoothly? What materials and resources will you need to purchase or use within the school? What dates or times will you be asking for students to be available for your project outside of your allocated class time?
If you are trying to introduce a completely new class to your school, think about providing evidence of why this project is going to be beneficial to students. Look at www.thesimplestartup.com for statistics, success stories, testimonials, and examples of other teachers, students, and parents who have implemented The Simple StartUp in their own lives.
- Invite Your Admin In. When we think of building routines, rules, and expectations with our students, we are often told that the level of buy-in and adherence increases with perceived ownership of the process (The Classroom of Choice, J. Erwin). The same mindset works when it comes to your admin. To reduce the number of roadblocks and hoops to jump through, invite your admin to be a part of the planning process for introducing the project or class. Ask for their input on the direction that the project should go and use their extensive knowledge of the school and district rules to allow you to put rules in place with the students for things they can and can’t do for their business ideas. For example, in my school district, the school cafeteria is subsidized and a condition on that is that there is not allowed to be any competition with the cafeteria while it is open. So all vending machines are shut down in the morning and at lunch time, and our Simple StartUps are not allowed to sell food products of any sort during those hours. By having that knowledge ahead of time, I was able to avoid the conflict that would have come by students starting a food business and wanting to sell during lunch, only to be shut down by the admin. A clear understanding of the rules and expectations for you and your students reduces the risk of conflict with admin later on!
- No surprises. My admin, who was very supportive of all my crazy ideas, used to say he would try to support anything but he wanted no surprises. What this meant for him, was that he wanted to know ahead of time what I had planned, how it was going to look, and if something went wrong. If my admin was caught off guard by a parent, superintendent, local reporter, or student, letting him know that something had happened under his watch without him knowing, good or bad, there was a problem. Open communication is so important and the saying “ask for forgiveness rather than permission” can really backfire on you if you lose the support of your administration.
Keep your admin in the loop of what the students are doing. The easiest way to do this is invite them to visit your classroom and see what they students are working on. Let them share their ideas, energy, and enthusiasm with your principal or vice-principals. Often you’ll hear your admin giving suggestions back or sharing ideas of how they could utilize school resources that you hadn’t even thought of. Similar to point #2, it creates a sense of ownership that can increase their desire to see your students succeed!
There you have it! 3 ways that you can get your administration on your side, approving your students’ ideas, and ensuring the success of your classes. Please don’t forget to share your student success stories or even your admin success stories on www.thesimplestartup.com/stories or on our Facebook Community www.facebook.com/groups/thesimplestartup