Open Up Opportunity
School leaders have one of the most important jobs in the world, and they shouldn’t have to do it alone. That’s why we’ve made supporting values-driven leaders, who are aspiring to achieve more for students, the heart of our work for more than a decade.
While there are many ways to expand opportunity for students, two key levers often make a big difference: teachers’ mindsets and instructional materials. Therein comes Open Up Opportunity, a collection of resources for school leaders.
Open Up Opportunity is a synthesis of what we’ve learned so far from our own work and others about ways school leaders can foster equitable classrooms. It’s neither a prescription nor a roadmap, but rather a collection of hypotheses, guiding principles, key actions, and curated resources for school leaders that tie to four habits.
Mindsets are sets of beliefs that shape how we make sense of the world and our place in it. Because they influence how we think, feel, and behave in a situation, mindsets can be both barriers to and supports for strong teaching and leading.
Curricular materials can level access to challenging lessons and help all students access their potential in different ways. When teachers are equipped to use common, high-quality instructional materials across classrooms and differentiate with intention, all students are more likely to experience what they need to reach high goals. Better yet, when leaders provide clear support around materials, teachers can spend less time figuring out what to teach and focus their passion and energy on how they teach.
Our Collaborators: 5 Incredible School Leaders
Dr. Angelina Walker
“I didn’t know how to take a school within a system that’s already pre-built, and transform it into something more equitable, but I wanted to create something I’d not seen before. Everything that I’ve done in my life has led up or built to where we are today.”
“That’s the biggest lesson that I learned as a principal: you cannot do it without parents and families. And if they know what you’re doing, they’ll help you fund it, they’ll help you understand it, they’ll talk to other people about it, they’ll connect you to experts about it and they’ll start reading about it themselves. And I think when we all stay curious, that’s when the community gets stronger.”
“A school has to be a community of learners. That starts from me being vulnerable and naming that change takes time. One of the biggest mistakes I made [when designing a new strategic plan around equity] was trying to rush the process.”
Los Angeles, C.A.
“The reason Esperanza exists is to prove what is possible for all students. Our organization is committed to a promise that I made to the parents and community. In East Los Angeles, only 3.8 percent of young adults aged 25 or older have a college degree. This is what gets me up every day—we’re here to defy those statistics.”
Dr. Jennifer Slanger
“I always think about change as a continuum. I’m in one place on my journey, and my colleagues are in a different place. Leaders have to really honor and recognize that we’re all in the journey together, but we might have different paths to getting to the same destination.”
Open Up Opportunity
Find Your Next Step
Open Up Opportunity is about putting you in the driver’s seat of where you go next, so there is no one right way to use it. Use it as a reflection tool (that includes activities you can do right now) as you think about goals for the next year and beyond.
Get your copy
Download Open Up Opportunity
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Revisit Teaching for Equity
Open Up Opportunity builds upon our vision for excellent and equitable teaching, focusing more specifically on the system and school resources necessary for work in classrooms to succeed. For a deeper exploration of teaching practices that lead to transformational experiences for students, check out Teaching for Equity.
Thank you to the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation for making this research possible. We also celebrate the leaders, peers, and researchers who contributed wisdom and lived experiences to the design process.