A. The two Best of Marshall Memo books have been well received (see Reviews), but within a year of publication, it became clear that the ideas were not reaching enough K-12 educators. Coincidentally, a team at a national foundation was working on improving communication between researchers and practitioners, and they reached out to see if we could work together. Here's how we analyzed the reasons for the knowing/doing gap:
- The best articles and studies are scattered among scores of journals, magazines, and websites.
- Many journal subscriptions are expensive.
- Some of the best articles are behind paywalls.
- The 20-40-page length of serious studies and articles can be daunting.
- Researchers write primarily for other researchers, and the prose can be dense and technical.
- Some studies have a narrow focus and aren’t applicable in schools.
- Some issues of immediate importance to front-line educators have not yet been studied (for example, how long does a principal need to be in a classroom to have a meaningful follow-up discussion with the teacher?).
- Educators don't always know what they don’t know, hampering their search for the right research.
- Confirmation bias may be at work, preventing educators from finding novel solutions.
During a series of conversations with foundation staffers, an idea was born: why not create a website that would make all 22 chapters of the Best of Marshall Memo books freely available to educators? And why not include audio recordings of the chapters, “create your own adventure” searches in the Memo archive, and online discussion forums to facilitate peer-to-peer collaboration? During the winter of 2020-21, the website took shape, and with the support of the foundation, it was launched in mid-May 2021. The mission:
• Putting at educators’ fingertips, in a compact and readable format, the best ideas for improving leadership, teaching, and learning;
• Using the online platform to spark ongoing peer-to-peer conversations on key issues and support continuous improvement in classrooms.
Note that the Best of Memo books' chapter sequence has been slightly changed on this website. Why? We wanted to separate the three groupings focused on leadership actions from the three addressing classroom practice.