The Best of Us S2/E13: Using Continuous Improvement Science in Schools, with Paola Deliz Felix Encarnación

In this episode of The Best of Us, we’re joined by Paola Deliz Felix Encarnación, Vice President of the National Network for School Improvement at City Year and author of “The Six Principles to Foster Voice and Belonging.” Paola walks us through the ins and outs of City Year’s partnership program, which works with schools on challenges to student success through continuous improvement principles.

Paola also covers how to co-create curriculum materials with educators, why intentional reflection is crucial for sustained progress, the unlikely connection of Swedish Fish to school improvement, and much more.

Listen now:


City Year's Mission and Program (00:01:49) Overview of City Year's educational support and school improvement network strategies.

Continuous Improvement Science (00:02:43) Introducing the concept of continuous improvement and its application in education.

Teacher Experience with Additional Responsibilities (00:04:30) Exploring why teachers find value in additional responsibilities despite increased workload.

Partnership and Program Design (00:06:59) Partnership with the Everyone Graduate Center and program design rationale.

Continuous Improvement in Practice (00:09:55) How continuous improvement is applied in a classroom setting.

Change Team and Collaborative Process (00:13:01) Building teams for collaborative problem-solving.

Selecting High-Leverage Practices (00:15:39) Identifying high-leverage practices for improvement.

Sustaining Focus on Improvement (00:17:37) How schools are encouraged to maintain focus and investment in the improvement process.

Data-Driven Approach (00:17:46) Using data to assess the effectiveness of improvement efforts.

Co-Authored Content and Programming (00:18:55) Teachers and participants co-author content and programming, giving feedback and having voice and choice.

Space for Powerful Reflection (00:21:54) Providing opportunities for educators to reflect on their practice and support their own humanity.

Timely and Relevant Information (00:26:03) Leaving space to pivot and respond to immediate needs, such as grades and community events.

Quick Feedback Loops (00:31:18) Selecting interventions and seeking feedback immediately to ensure iterative work and responsiveness.

Fostering Belonging through Surprise and Delight (00:34:23) Creating unexpected and delightful learning experiences to foster a sense of belonging and engagement.

Celebrating School Efforts (00:34:59) Discussion about rewarding and celebrating schools' hard work with personalized treats and special recognition.

Embracing Complete Individuals (00:35:58) Emphasizing the importance of celebrating and delighting individuals, allowing them to bring their entire selves to the space.

Direct Communication for Change (00:36:51) The significance of having district leaders in the room to address quick changes and remove barriers for school leaders.

Starting CI Programming Strong (00:39:45) Exploring the focus on launching from the beginning and understanding what matters in the first 3 to 6 months of continuous improvement work.

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