Sprinting Through the School Year: Scrum for Schools

How can students, teachers, and administrators leverage a workflow to accomplish more during the school year?

Photo of Jared Amalong
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Introducing innovation and change to our schools will require more energy and time of our teachers and administrators, whom are already limited in those resources.  To that end, it is imperative that teachers and administrators are invested in the process of innovating.  How does a school create this investment from staff?

Energy and time are fleeting commodities in all industries - not just education.  Technology companies have become masters of innovation , despite a dearth of energy and time.  These companies often utilize an approach to project management referred to as Agile Project Management and a methodology aptly named Scrum.  At its core, Scrum leverages the strength of the team.  Alone, a software developer may be able to produce a quality piece of software.  As a team, software developers can produce that same piece of software in less time and with more quality.

Isn't that how our schools work - or should work?  Alone, a teacher can have a huge impact on his or her class.  As a team, teachers can completely redefine learning for the students of a school.  Imagine a place where teachers meet each day to review the previous days accomplishments and forecast the upcoming days challenges.  These types of dialogues surely exist, but do they follow a strict structure that encourages accountability, collaboration, and focus?  The Scrum methodology of Agile Project Management provides meeting structure that teams of teachers and administrators can utilize to make innovation and change a reality at their schools.

Certainly, there are many other facets of Scrum that can be leveraged in schools.  In Jeff Sutherland's book, "The Art of Doing Twice as Much in Half the Time", concepts of a "product backlog", "sprint planning meeting" and "sprint retrospective" are outlined.  Creating one large "to-do" list for teachers and administrators, pulling together the team of teachers and administrators and plucking the most important items from that list that will produce tangible results in a given week, and reflecting on the year are examples of how Scrum practices may play out in schools.  Certainly, this can be expanded as The Teacher's Guild Collaboration continues.

As you may have noticed, this idea has been focused on the adults in schools.  Of course, students are at the core of education - they are the focus and the reason for being.  How would Scrum look if students were to implement the same practices their teachers and administrators utilizes each day?  Quite possibly, Scrum could create the "Anti-Routine Routine" that would be transparent from top to bottom.  Students working with teachers under the guidance of administration to accomplish "twice as much in half the time."  Scrum might not only provide innovative routines to schools, but will solve the problem of not having enough energy and time.


Join the conversation:

Photo of David Harrington

Are you able to do some mock-ups of a typical scenario? Nothing crazy fancy. Just something up on a whiteboard and then take a picture. This would give your audience an idea or prototype of what you are discussing. Thx, Jared.

Photo of Jared Amalong

Hi David - can I submit my Evolve tonight? Late, late entry :(

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