In this “one minute hit” Alec explains that High Tech High isn’t “looser” than other schools, we’re just “tight” about different things that most schools.
Visitors to High Tech High often misconstrues approach to planning as loose or anything goes compared to traditional schools, because teachers aren’t following a preset curriculum. In fact, High Tech High is tight on different things for most schools.
The standard approach to managing teachers is to be very tight on the standards they’re covering and loose about how they plan. In other words, as long as you’re teaching the content you’re expected to teach, you can pretty much plan however you want. But for the most part, you’ll plan on your own.
High Tech High is the opposite. Directors don’t impose a specific set of standards on teachers, but we all refer to standards like Common Core and NGSS because they’re useful. But we plan collaboratively using a shared set of protocol to develop and refine our work, in particular a protocol called a Project Tuning.
A teacher wouldn’t get in trouble because they weren’t teaching a particular period in US history, but if a teacher refused to take part in project tunings, that would be a problem, because we’re tight on the “how” of planning, not on the “what”. That’s why we do collaborative professional development four days a week at most of our schools. We have a shared culture not because someone’s imposing it from above, but because we just spend so much time together.