Introducing School Builder Essentials

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The 4.0 Schools Essentials program has gone through many iterations over the last six years. In the spirit of practicing what we preach (and truly believing in it), we have run tests of each component of Essentials to best serve our community of entrepreneurs, and we are pretty confident that the current iteration is the dopest it has been in a while. We continue to pour over feedback so that we can find places to improve and change in order to grow with the needs of our people.

The ventures our entrepreneurs are working on can be put into three buckets: schools, learning spaces, and ed tech or physical products. Our curriculum, coaching, and experiences are adapted so that each of these groups can relate to the material and grow their individual ventures.

What would happen if we specialized the programming? When crafting 5th grade curriculum, I spent a sizable chunk of my time differentiating each lesson for different learning styles and levels; why should Essentials be any different?

Enter School Builder Essentials.

I couldn’t be more thrilled to roll out my first big test of our curriculum since coming on board to manage Essentials. We have been able to cater to the individual needs of educational entrepreneurs, and I’m excited to think about the power of differentiating our programming to meet the needs of school builders. If you’re building a school, we want you in our December 8–10th School Builders Essentials session in New Orleans.

The risk involved in starting any venture is high, but when your venture involves the livelihoods of your community’s children, the risk is in a league of its own. Our focus is on mitigating that risk by coaching school builders on how to test and solve problems with their users early, often, and inexpensively rather than building in silos and possibly needing to make expensive, time-consuming pivots.

Here’s What You Get:

The curriculum will include a case study about a school currently in the process of starting, examples of great tests that budding schools have run in the past, and the lessons entrepreneurs have learned from testing. Our community is rich in the resources necessary to pass on entrepreneurial knowledge specific to school builders: the entrepreneurs themselves.

Coaching That Meets Your Needs

In traditional Essentials sessions, we purposefully match coaching circles of entrepreneurs by nature of their venture and the coach’s expertise. Countless Essentials participants have cited their coaching circles as the most influential piece of their experience because of the push they received from people working in the same space they are. We have a hunch that expanding that to the entire room of entrepreneurs and coaches has huge potential. The coaches at School Builder Essentials will be experts who have either started their own school or been otherwise closely involved with the opening of a new school .I think starting a session with the underlying understanding of similar struggles and triumphs will let us hit the ground running in a way we’ve never seen. Not to mention the knowledge in the room- we will have people who have progressed to different degrees at different paces in different cities and states on different types of schools.

Capital to Run Tests

We believe the best use of money at an early stage is testing. What does that mean as a school builder? Before you spend thousands of dollars writing your charter application, leasing space, or forming your 501c(3), you talk to the families and students you want to serve and validate that they need your school. During Essentials, you’ll learn how to design tests based on the riskiest aspect of your school. To be specific, you’ll learn to design tests that answer three questions: Who are the families and students that are not being served by the current school options in your community, why are the current options not meeting their needs, and what kind of school should you design to meet those needs? We don’t want you to serve all students or solve all problems. We want you to stay focused on testing a solution that solves a well-defined problem significantly better than current alternatives for students in your community. To help you get started with testing your solution, we offer each participant up to $100 to run their first test.

It takes a village to raise a school. I’ve been a part of multiple communities and movements, but I’ve never encountered the level of unwavering generous support that the 4.0 Schools community provides.

A Community of Peers

All alumni of Essentials gain access to our larger community in order to get feedback, ask questions, and learn hard-fought lessons from fellow entrepreneurs. The advantage of being an alumni of the School Builder Essentials program is having your Essentials cohort be entirely composed of people facing similar challenges and continuing to access those people as you move forward after Essentials. Suddenly, the formerly isolated room in which you are crafting your school expands across the country encompassing supporters simultaneously working on the same project.

A sizable portion of the impact Essentials has on its participants happens after the 2.5 days of intense work. The entrepreneurs sharpen their skills in defining their idea, interrogating the assumptions on which they may be building, and testing those assumptions. Even more important is the intangible impact Essentials has in creating community following the program itself.

What We Hope to Learn

Are we committed to continuing to provide the high-quality content that Essentials is known for? Absolutely. Participants in our School Builder Essentials will still be pushed to refine their user, problem, and solution. We will still have coaching groups that challenge one another’s thinking and help to question the assumptions evident in one another’s work. We will continue to give participants a chance to learn how to test important aspects of their programming before they dive head first into their work. We believe founders should talk to users early and often. We will continue to have dedicated time with students, teachers, and parents to get honest feedback.

Just like our entrepreneurs, we will be testing the assumption that a school builder focused Essentials session will provide an advantage for our participants. I’ll pay close attention to feedback from our participants, coaches, and staff during and after the session to monitor this test. If specializing the program turns out to boost the experience for our participants, we will continue to explore this option. If this test proves that our hunch is incorrect, just like the resilient entrepreneurs we serve, we will move to testing our next assumption. One thing is for sure, we will continue to hack our programming, test it, and improve it so that we are best serving the country’s most valuable asset: our young people, through curious educational entrepreneurs. If you are in the process of building a school, apply by October 31st and drop us a comment letting us know what you would like to see at School Builder Essentials.