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Carnegie Summit 2023

As I close this week on a rare sunny Friday in Seattle, I am sitting outside with my dog Cali – reflecting on the excitement of the Carnegie Summit in San Diego.  

I met so many new people: teachers, principals, district leaders, state policy makers and improvers. It was inspiring to learn the many ways teams are applying improvement science to improve education and the experience of school. As much as I loved meeting new people, I left feeling grounded and energized from re-connecting with amazing people that I’ve worked with for decades and haven’t seen over the last few years because of COVID.   

There were so many highlights across the three days at the Carnegie Summit – but here are just a few! 

Carnegie Summit 2023 Shay and Karen

Shay and I were honored to return to teach Shift’s course Building a Culture of Learning & Improvement as a pre-course to the Carnegie Summit again! Participants included individuals and teams seeking to expand improvement beyond a few projects or a few teams to becoming a shared way of working in their organization. They worked hard throughout the day – reflecting on their current state and creating strategies to embed improvement into their organizations and systems.  

We believe that this session content is important and compelling – but we know that’s true when participants stay late on a sunny Sunday in San Diego to ask more questions. Check out the view from our conference room in the photo for evidence! One team shared an interesting reflection. We often say that we want a culture of improvement – but it feels so nebulous how to make that happen.  They felt that this course helped to make this feel more tangible – with essential elements and clear strategies to start to work towards this goal to embed improvement into a way of working. 

Carnegie Summit 2023 Precourse

Teaching and facilitating this pre-course was pure joy and fun for me. It was a reminder how much I love to facilitate learning and connections, while helping teams to deepen their practices to improve. While I love a good Miro or Jamboard, nothing beats the organic conversations and connections that come from in-person collaboration! 

We could all learn a lot about building sustainable improvement efforts from Un Buen Comienzo (UBC), an improvement network focused on improving early childhood literacy in Chile.  It was a joy to reconnect with Francis Duran (Improvement Advisor, Institute for Healthcare Improvement), Dr. MaryCatherine Arbour (Improvement Advisor and Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School), and Marcela Marzolo (Executive Director Fundación Educacional Oportunidad) to facilitate their panel session: Cases of Leading Continuous Improvement in Chile: Improving Attendance in Preschool and Strengthening Leadership in High School. We worked closely together from 2012 – 2017 to launch UBC as an improvement network (this was prior to founding Shift, and I supported their team as an Improvement Advisor with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement).  It was inspiring to see how deeply this community has embedded improvement into local structures and applied improvement science on complex topics that impact early childhood literacy, like chronic school absenteeism. Francis Duran shared emerging work from a high school in Chile in the early stages of improvement work, serving as a reminder how important it is to build trust and leadership from the beginning.  A high compliment was that Dr. Tony Bryk (Ninth President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching) attended our session! 

Carnegie Summit 2023 Math Panel

Shift was honored to contribute to the April 2023 issue of the Learning Professional Journal by Learning Forward to share about the testing that Crystal M. Watson, Charles Collingwood, and Katie Kunkel conducted in their math classrooms last spring (learn more about the project in the online exclusive). Kara McElvaine participated on a panel facilitated by Jennifer Husbands along with other authors in this special edition journal from High Tech High Graduate School of Education, (Institute for Learning, University of Pittsburgh) and Baltimore City Public Schools. Kara shared context for this project during the panel and then facilitated a smaller group discussion with participants interested in culturally responsive pedagogy in math. It was exciting to learn about applications of improvement science across panelists and organizations as well as see so much interest in culturally responsive pedagogy in math!  

Carnegie Summit 2023

Some of the best moments at conferences are catching up with friends and colleagues outside of sessions. It was wonderful to catch up with friends from PERTS. Sarah Gripshover and I worked closely together over several years throughout the course of The Student Experience Project (SEP) which ended in July 2022. I always grieve for a bit when improvement communities close – largely because I miss working daily with the amazing, passionate people coming together to work towards a cause!

Carnegie Summit 2023 Shift team


Last but certainly not least, Kara and I closed out the Carnegie Summit with our session: Actionable Knowledge for Educators: Streamlining Learning Consolidation and Dissemination. Improvement initiatives generate a mountain of learning that is a gold mine of information about how to implement change in real world contexts.  Let’s be real. It’s no small task for those running the initiative to capture, sort and then package learning into what we call a “change package”: a collection of tested practices, called change ideas, that have reliably improved a system or process.  

We shared tips and tricks for capturing and consolidating learning from the start of an initiative. We shared two change packages that Shift recently co-created with partners to help participants reflect how they would package learning from their improvement work. Missed our session?  You can see the session materials here…and, stay tuned as we have three new videos that are relevant to this topic coming soon! 

All in all, it was a terrific #CarnegieSummit2023! The live murals captured the many reasons that I am an Improver, and why I loved three days of being surrounded by a community of amazing improvers!  

- Karen Zeribi

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