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The New School Rules


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Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgments About the Authors Introduction: Why We Need New Organizational Practices for Thriving Schools and Students Today The Promise of Responsiveness How Responsive Organizational Thinking Evolved How This Book Is Designed A Note About Who This Book Is For CHAPTER 1. PLANNING: Plan for Change, Not Perfection When Plans Are More Important Than Our Purpose Planning Without Learning Control Is Confused With Planning Build Roadmaps, Not Manuals Use Cadences and Pivot Points, Not Just Schedules and Deadlines Encourage Testing, Experiments, and Responsiveness EXPERIMENT 1. Define a Clear Purpose EXPERIMENT 2. Delineate Between What You Know and What You Anticipate CHAPTER 2. TEAMING: Build Trust and Allow Authority to Spread We're Dragged Down by the Slow and Unwieldy Legacy of Hierarchies Land Grabs Are Still Too Common When Everyone and No One Is Responsible Clarify the Purpose of Every Team . . . and Revisit It Build Trust and Address Tensions Develop Effective Team Habits That Support Distributed Authority Embrace Dynamic Team Structures That Evolve and End EXPERIMENT 3. Offer Feedback as Data EXPERIMENT 4. Team Meeting Protocol CHAPTER 3. MANAGING ROLES: Define the Work Before You Define the People Job Descriptions Get in the Way Role Overwhelm (and Underwhelm) Put a Role's Purpose Before Politics Separate Roles for Personal Clarity and Smarter Decisions Value Each Voice as a Human Sensor EXPERIMENT 5. Role Mapping EXPERIMENT 6. The One-Question Technique EXPERIMENT 7. Guidelines for Being an Effective Sensor CHAPTER 4. DECISION MAKING: Aim for "Safe Enough to Try" Instead of Consensus The Cycle of Meeting Paralysis The Risks of Delayed Decision Making The False Promise of Consensus . . . or Defaulting to a Decider-in-Chief Get Aligned and Clear Out the Noise Decide on Things You Can Decide On: Make Decisions Smaller Fail Forward: Approach Planning and Big Decisions as Decision Cycles EXPERIMENT 8. Three Language Shifts for Decision-Making Discussions EXPERIMENT 9. Protocol for a Starting Proposal EXPERIMENT 10. Default to Yes and Defend No-One Decision at a Time CHAPTER 5. SHARING INFORMATION: Harness the Flow and Let Information Go A False Sense of Transparency Information Has an Expiration Date Accept Ambiguity Think of Others: Apply the Reverse Precautionary Principle Ask for What You Need: Apply the Lesson of Self-Advocacy Plan Communication as a Process, Not an Event EXPERIMENT 11. Say "Thank You" for Asking EXPERIMENT 12. The 3 x 3 Rule CHAPTER 6. THE LEARNING ORGANIZATION: Schools Grow When People Grow "Best Practices" Are Inhibiting Learning and Innovation There Isn't Learning Without Listening The Mindset of Efficiency Use the Physical Environment to Build a Learning Environment Promote Optimal Zones of Learning (for Adults as Well, Not Just Kids) Develop a Learning Mindset: The Stance of Agent, Not Subject Face the Truth EXPERIMENT 13. Start a Reflection Practice EXPERIMENT 14. Create a Habit of Learning Every Day EXPERIMENT 15. Personal Portfolios A Responsive Roadmap: Beginning the Shift to New Organizational Practices Three Dimensions of Change A Plan for Implementation Frequently Asked Questions and Answers List of New Rules and Lessons List of Experiments References Index

About the Author

Anthony Kim is a nationally recognized leader in education technology, school design, and personalized learning. As founder and CEO of Education Elements, he has been involved in helping hundreds of schools change the way they think about teaching and learning. As the author of "The Personalized Learning Playbook, Why the Time Is Now", Anthony has influenced many educators. He has contributed to many publications on new school models including "Lessons Learned from Blended Programs: Experiences and Recommendations from the Field". Anthony is a nationally recognized speaker on personalized learning and his work has been referenced by the Christensen Institute, iNACOL, EdSurge, CompetencyWorks, EdWeek, District Administrator, and numerous other research reports. Anthony also founded Provost Systems, which provided online learning solutions to school districts. Provost Systems was acquired by EdisonLearning, where he served as Executive Vice President of Online. Anthony is passionate helping school district can become more nimble, understanding what motivates adult learners, and designing schools that plan for the needs of our future. Outside of education, Anthony is passionate about triathlons and learning about people who overcome remarkable challenges. He is a San Francisco native and continues to live there with his wife Angela and rescued dogs. Alexis Gonzales Black is an expert in organizational design and change initiatives with deep experience in the education, retail, and technology sectors. A Principal Designer at the global design firm IDEO, she designs and implements new organizational models to fuel innovation, agility, and engagement. Alexis earned a B.S in biology from James Madison University, and developed a passion for teaching and social justice as a high school science teacher and recruiter for Teach For America. At, Alexis led college recruiting and diversity initiatives while co-leading the online retailer's transition to the Holacracy model of organizational design. She founded Thoughtful Org Partners, a consultancy where she partners with organizations to break through?rigidity and introduce self-organizing principles. Alexis's work has been widely covered in such media outlets as Forbes, Huffington Post, Fox, and CNN Money. She?is a board member of Responsive Org and formerly an elected member of the Nevada State Board of Education and the West Ed Board of Directors. She lives in the Bay Area with her family.


A principal can pick this book up and find excellent advice to help her lead a school without micro-managing.

-- Melissa Wood-Glusac, English Teacher Grades 9 and 11

The NEW School Rules is inspirational, easy to read, and realistic. It offers specific, doable steps to help you get started with implementation and make strides toward becoming part of a responsive organization. Ideal for an administrative team book study.

-- Kathy Rhodes, Principal

The NEW School Rules tackles organizational change in an interesting and accessible way with adaptable tools and protocols you'll want to implement in your schools. The desired outcomes are clearly defined through an empathetic design approach.

-- Jill Gildea, Superintendent

Discussions about improving education inevitably gravitate to things-curriculum, standards, assessments, technology, professional learning. In The NEW School Rules, Anthony Kim and Alexis Gonzales-Black make a highly compelling case that to fundamentally improve education we must focus on process-specifically, the organizational management, structure, and practice that governs how decisions are made. The authors provide school administrators with an accessible how-to guide for implementing the kinds of organizational changes that will lead to real improvements in student outcomes.

-- JD Solomon, Editorial Director

When we take something as beautiful and life-giving as education, and find that managing the institutions that provide it is soul-crushing, we know something is very wrong. The NEW School Rules shows us the problem, offers an alternative vision of educational administration, and gives us the practical tools to unlock new energy in ourselves and our colleagues. Every administrator should read this book.

-- Matthew Kramer, CEO

The NEW School Rules offers a critical and timely framework to ensure that future generations are equipped to thrive in a rapidly-changing world.

-- Tony Hsieh, CEO, Author

Super practical rules for school change with stated problems, lessons, and experiments you can try tomorrow. The NEW School Rules provides guidance on defining the work, encouraging experimentation, sharing leadership, accepting ambiguity, and turning schools into learning organizations. It is a must-read for leaders of teachers, schools, and systems.

-- Tom Vander Ark, Author
Every school district should read and digest The NEW School Rules. In it, Anthony Kim and Alexis Gonzales-Black make a major contribution to how schools should create teams, organize, and plan to profoundly and positively impact students, teachers, and the community. -- Michael Horn, Co-Author

The NEW School Rules is a concrete, battle-tested roadmap for leaders who want to do right by kids by having the courage to help adults embrace change. As a superintendent of ten years (in Newark and New York), I led bold teams that were relentlessly focused on turning around systems that had been failing kids for decades. The central thesis of The NEW School Rules - that districts and schools must fundamentally rethink how they are organized in order to become more responsive, agile, innovative and, ultimately, effective - is spot on. What I appreciate most is that the book is both visionary and evocative - and also practical and instructive. We must build education institutions that put kids' needs in an ever-evolving world ahead of everything else.

-- Cami Anderson, Former Superintendent

The NEW School Rules asks the right questions and poses the right experiments to shift districts and schools to an increased focus on student learning. Kim and Gonzales-Black combine smart practices for running a great organization with the realities faced in many of America's schools. Preparing every student to succeed in the 21st Century requires that educators work collaboratively to increase the quality of education.

-- Tim Parker, President

The NEW School Rules recognizes that adults in the educational system have to learn, evolve, and grow if students are to succeed in an ever-changing world. I wish I'd had this book years ago!

-- Dale Erquiaga, President/CEO

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