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MASTER PLANNING Five questions for Bo Adams Published: March 2013 How is pedagogical master planning distinct from strategic planning that schools regularly undertake? Pedagogical Master Planning is a radical rethinking of strategic planning that mashes up Unboundarys strengths in transformation design with master plannings greatest virtues visualizing whole systems, layering complex information, and phasing strategic renovation. Inspired by campus master planning, weve translated its principles to what happens at the heart of a school. We illustrate a schools teaching and learning core its pedagogical ecosystem so that people can see how the parts of the whole are interrelated and interconnected. Then, school transformation can be designed holistically, with blueprints, in a similar way to making changes to a schools physical facilities. So, if the question were an analogy on the SAT, it might read Pedagogical Master Planning is to strategic planning as a blueprint is to a grocery list. Your blog is titled Its About Learning, a three word understanding that you consider the cornerstone of education. Before a school undertakes pedagogical master planning, must all of its stakeholders agree to a definition of learning? All of a schools stakeholders do not have to agree to a definition of learning before the school undertakes Pedagogical Master Planning. However, the methodology and processes of PMP are meant to expose and illuminate a learning communitys shared understandings and values. Its during the undertaking that Unboundary helps a school to define its shared beliefs and architect a system that will be built on better alignment of throughout the community. 2013 SAIS

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In education circles today, there exists a philosophical polarization between those who defend a knowledge-based curriculum and those who advocate a 21st century skills approach. Does pedagogical master planning promote one over the other? Must that disunity be resolved before any plan is undertaken? Well, I think the content vs. skills debate is a false dichotomy. Its not either/or. Its both/and. People need to develop content knowledge and the skills to acquire and apply such knowledge. I think thats called wisdom. So, I dont think PMP promotes one over the other. I think PMP promotes purposefully designed change. Its definitely meant to help schools transform, and to do so systemically. I think so many schools are attempting to change on a number of fronts they are trying to discern the content and skills and methods that are most relevant today and for the future. But instead of trying to manage such complexity and bolt on a host of other peoples best practices, schools should be embracing the complexity by clarifying their purpose and character, refined by external perspective, and approaching change with more of a systems view. As PMP unfolds for a school, I think disunity is addressed, and on a number of levels. You regularly refer to a school as an ecosystem, a word that suggests a network of connectivity and mutual dependency. Yet, some might argue that school in general is more regularly characterized by the isolation and independence of its parts: its divisions, disciplines, grades, and periods. Why is the understanding of a school as an ecosystem central to pedagogical master planning? At its core, a school is a pedagogical ecosystem composed of seven interrelated and interconnected parts: purpose, leadership, professional learning, curricula, instruction, assessment, and learning environments. Changes in one of those parts have consequences in the other parts of the system. Unfortunately, schools have not tended to approach transformation with such a systems view. For example, a school might try to adopt a new instructional method such as PBL (project-based learning or problem-based learning) without fully considering the ripples that such a change will have in assessment, learning environments, curricula, etc. Pedagogical Master Planning is designed so that the ecosystem is made more visible, just like master plans make the whole system of a schools campus more visible. Then, remodeling and renovation can happen more holistically, taking into account how the parts of the system are connected and mutually dependent on each other. 2013 SAIS the conversation continues inside of SAISconnect April 19, 2013 | 11:30 AM 1:00 PM Bo Adams, educational blogger and thinker, will discuss the need for Pedagogical Master Planning, and the processes, tools, and facilitation schools need to develop shared understanding, unified direction, and adaptive progress.

Design thinking, the flipped classroom, brain based teaching, global competence, problem based learning, shared inquiry. There are so many innovative methodologies promoted in education today. Is pedagogical master planning another tool for our kit? PMP is not another tool for the kit, if the kit is full of the methodologies that you named. PMP is more of a meta-tool or a meta-strategy. Its a transformation design framework meant to promote a systems perspective of zooming out and zooming in, so that a school community can better see, understand, and develop its particular tool kit in a more comprehensive and collaborative manner. Going back to the architectural metaphor, PMP is not another kind of saw or hammer. Rather, its the blueprints for the entire house the home that will be built with the saws, hammers, nails, etc.

Bo serves as the Director of Educational Innovation at Unboundary, a strategic design studio in Atlanta, Georgia, specializing in transformational change processes, communications, and brand significance. Bo remains active as an edu-blogger at Its About Learning ( and @boadams1 on Twitter. Additionally, Bo regularly pursues deeper understanding in the area of schools of the future and the future of schools.

2013 SAIS

the conversation continues inside of SAISconnect