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Making a complex system tangible

Boston Public Schools

We designed two annual open houses that showcased Boston Public School's work and provided a vehicle for the system to learn from constituents in an interactive exhibition.

In the first year, BPS highlighted its educational vision and the district's 10-year facilities masterplan, BuildBPS. The exhibition made tangible the challenges the system faces and brought to life the trade-offs that will be necessary as the district designs itself for future decades.

The second year focused on college, career, and life readiness. The exhibit celebrated the work of BPS high schools and students in areas such as summer internships and project-based learning. The open house brought together a network of city resources available to students and families to support their paths towards college and career.

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Reflecting the teachers' values back to them

boston public schools

A school principal wears many hats -- instructional leader, culture-builder, COO. Hiring is a critical task, but not one that all principals elevate or excel at. Boston Public School’s Office of Human Capital sought to support principals in high-need schools in attracting candidates to their positions.

Interviewing teachers in such schools allowed us to understand their values and look-fors in the hiring process. It was not enough for principals to share vision and theory of change; teachers looked for evidence and tactics -- and the role they would play.

A simple set of tools gives OHC and school leaders the ability to market schools more powerfully to recruits. Targeted questions flow into collateral designed to be shared through OHC’s exiting channels.

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Dejargon-ifying information for families and communities

boston public schools

Turnaround status is a state designation for low-performing schools. It requires the district and school create a specific plan and accountability measures towards improving the school. These turnaround plans are detailed documents, dozens of pages dense with edu-speak.

And yet, family engagement is recognized as an effective strategy for improvement. We worked with the Boston Public Schools Office of Turnaround and Transformation to translate these turnaround plans into accessible, digestible documents that families and community members can engage with.