Who You KnowUnlocking Innovations That Expand Students' Networks
Improve student outcomes with a new approach to relationships and networks Relationships matter. Who You Know explores this simple idea to give teachers and school administrators a fresh perspective on how to break the pattern of inequality in American classrooms. It reveals how schools can invest in the power of relationships to increase social mobility for their students. Discussions about inequality often focus on achievement gaps. But opportunity is about more than just test scores. Opportunity gaps are a function of not just what students know, but who they know. This book explores the central role that relationships play in young people’s lives, and provides guidance for a path forward. Schools can: Integrate student support models that increase access to caring adults in students’ lives Invest in learning models that strengthen teacher-student relationships Deploy emerging technologies that expand students’ networks to experts and mentors from around world Exploring the latest tools, data, and real-world examples, this book provides evidence-based guidance for educators looking to level the playing field and expert analysis on how policymakers and entrepreneurs can help. Networks need no longer be limited by geography or circumstance. By making room for relationships, K-12 schools can transform themselves into hubs of next-generation learning and connecting. Who You Know explains how.
Foreword viiClayton M. Christensen Introduction 1 1 The Social Side of Opportunity: Why Relationships Matter to Meritocracy 17 2 Getting by with a Little Help from Our Friends: What Schools Need to Know about Social Capital 35 3 There’s no App for that: The Power of Integrating Access to Strong Ties and Care 53 4 Edtech that Connects: How New Technologies can Disrupt Students’ Networks 69 5 Making Space for Relationships: Redesigning School as a Caring and Networking Hub 89 6 If You Build it, will they Connect? Engaging Outsiders Inside Schools 111 7 What gets Measured gets Done: School Metrics and Policies Reconsidered 133 Conclusion: Designing for a Networked Society, Labor Market, and Life 153 About the Authors 161 Acknowledgments 163 Index 167
JULIA FREELAND FISHER is director of education research at the Clayton Christensen Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank. She leads a team devoted to informing policymakers and community leaders on the power of disruptive innovation to transform schools. DANIEL FISHER works as a subject matter expert for the U.S. government. Previously, he was an officer in the U.S. Army and a veterans' field representative for Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02).
It's undeniable—personal connections open doors to new opportunities. Often, success hinges on our networks; however, today's schools are not designed to nurture the health of students' networks or to connect students in effective ways beyond their immediate world of teachers, family, and peers. Who You Know explores a fresh paradigm that gives educators and school administrators a model for breaking the pattern of inequality in our classrooms. The authors examine the critical role that relationships play in young people's lives, and show how schools can invest in the power of relationships to increase social mobility for their students. Who You Know contains a review of the latest tools, data, and concrete examples and includes evidence-based guidance for educators and administrators. The book shows how to integrate student support systems that increase access to caring adults and explains why it is important to invest in the learning models that enhance teacher-student relationships. In addition, the authors describe a burgeoning market of technology-enabled platforms that is starting to connect students in new ways. These platforms allow students to access an array of relationships that are otherwise out of reach, and give school leaders the tools to fundamentally disrupt traditional education models that close off, rather than open up, students' networks. Who You Know outlines how relationships can become embedded in every aspect of a student's K–12 experience—not only to enrich learning, but also to nurture connecting.
IMPROVING STUDENT OUTCOMES BY DRAWING ON A DISRUPTIVE APPROACH TO RELATIONSHIPS AND NETWORKS "This book suggests a structure of school that would allow more individuals—even those that we don't think of as part of our traditional education system—to mentor, support and inspire young people. In that vein, Julia's research and vision is indispensable to building a world in which individuals—even those from wildly different backgrounds—can help one another. I'm indebted to Julia for helping me see how disruptive innovation can play a part in providing diverse, meaningful, and enduring relationships for our students. How can schools take advantage of this monumental opportunity? Who You Know points the way forward." —From the Foreword by Clayton M. Christensen "Opportunity is social, but schools ignore it. With this provocative observation, Julia Freeland Fisher launches what will be a revolution. To the rise of project-based learning and social intelligence, schools will add social capital as a named and measured outcome—and a new generation of tools and partnerships will help deliver on the promise Julia outlines." —TOM VANDER ARK, CEO of Getting Smart and author of Better Together, Getting Smart, Smart Cities, and Smart Parents "At a time when our technology platforms have us caught in an echo chamber of our own social filters, rarely exposed to new perspectives, Julia brilliantly makes the case that we must help the next generation intentionally build diverse social networks—and schools are the best place to start. It's not only critical for the health of our democracy, but it will improve the odds that every child has access to the American dream. Parents, school leaders and education technologists would greatly benefit from the data, research and most importantly, Julia's insights on how we can give all children the opportunity they deserve." —JENNIFER CAROLAN, Co-Founder and General Partner, Reach Capital "Many thanks to Julia Freeland Fisher for being willing to explore how 'who you know' is as important as 'what you know' in a student's learning experience. While the neighborhood school may offer community and security, it can also be increasingly limiting if students are not developing far-reaching relationships that move them from the schoolyard to the world." —BOB WISE, President, Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia "Who You Know is an engaging, compelling, and thought-provoking look at how schools could—and should—help students build and maintain social networks, and why this matters so much. It's a must-read for both school system leaders and educational entrepreneurs who seek to serve them." —JOANNE WEISS, former chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan
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