This is the second post in a three-part series offering a behind-the-scenes perspective of the Carnegie Summit and sharing stories of our improvement community.
As we get closer to the #2023CarnegieSummit—7 weeks and counting!—we are inspired by the many, many groups and teams that plan to attend the Carnegie Summit. Did you know that nearly half of our attendees are coming with another colleague or as part of a group? From improvement teams across schools and districts and even state education departments, along with coaches and improvement specialists, folks are attending with their colleagues to make the most of their improvement journey, using the Carnegie Summit to deepen and expand their experiences, share in the learning, and join a larger improvement community to help recharge their work.
Baltimore City Public Schools is one such example. While they have been regular CarnegieSummit attendees, this year they are making an even bigger commitment, with more than 40 team members attending, across job functions and with a shared goal of continuous improvement.
We asked our friends in Baltimore to tell us why the Carnegie Summit is such an important part of their improvement work. We really appreciate Zachary Jaffe, the Blueprint Literacy Coordinator for Continuous Improvement at Baltimore City Public Schools, for taking the time to offer his voice and perspective!
Q&A with Zachary Jaffe from Baltimore City Public Schools
Q: You’ve had a large team from throughout your district attend the Carnegie Summit. How has this helped your organization’s improvement journey?
A: Bringing in a team from many different parts of the organization has helped bring coherence to our messaging around the value of continuous improvement, as well as spreading a basic understanding of the concept. As we try to develop our capacity as a learning organization, it helps to be able to connect with people who have participated in sessions and had their own light-bulb moments about the variety of ways this work can improve educational systems.
Q: What’s the value of the Carnegie Summit for people in different roles? How has attending changed the way you think or work, individually or collectively?
A: Personally, I walk away from each session with a new idea that I can apply to my own work in the Literacy Office. I think other participants on our team choose strands that feel most relevant to their own roles – our central office staff, for example, likes to hear from other district leaders. Collectively, we can then build structures and routines that bring this work to life throughout the organization. Leaders in our district are excited about analyzing data from an improvement lens and are exploring ways to quickly grow the organization’s capacity to do this at scale.
"We all feel energized by seeing just how many other people are invested in the same type of work and how the struggles we may be experiencing are not unique to us."
Q: The Carnegie Summit feels like a community to many. How do you and your team experience a sense of community when you attend?
A: One thing we do intentionally is build in time during the Carnegie Summit for a team gathering so we can share ideas and perspectives with each other. This helps us consolidate our learning from the Carnegie Summit and better plan next steps for when we return home. Additionally, I think we all feel energized by seeing just how many other people are invested in the same type of work and how the struggles we may be experiencing are not unique to us.
Q: How does the Carnegie Summit motivate or recharge you?
A: I get motivated by hearing how educators have been reinvigorated by using continuous improvement in their practice. With so many people in education feeling burnout due to lack of support or even outright hostility, it’s exciting to hear about educators, driven by curiosity and their desire to help their students, using their expertise to find a better way.
"Because we return home [from the Carnegie Summit] with fresh ideas or validation of the way we’ve been doing things...we feel like the task of improving outcomes for our students and teachers is within reach."
Q: Finally, what keeps you coming back?
A: I am returning for another Carnegie Summit because of the positive energy I experienced the first time. In talking with others on my team, I feel a sense of excitement to continue our work together that stems from our shared time at the Carnegie Summit. Because we return home with fresh ideas or validation of the way we’ve been doing things or connections to others across the country who can help us, we feel like the task of improving outcomes for our students and teachers is within reach.
See You at Carnegie Summit 2023
Wow! Thank you, Zack, and all of your colleagues at Baltimore for fully realizing your continuous improvement work and considering the Carnegie Summit an essential part of the journey. We, too, think that the transformation we seek is within reach, but it’s going to take all of us working together to catalyze transformational change in education so that every student has the opportunity to live a healthy, dignified, and fulfilling life.
We can’t wait to see you in San Diego, to join the Summit community and participate in important connections and conversations along the way. Registration is still open, groups of five or more save $500+ when registered as a team!
Photographs provided by Baltimore City Public Schools.