On Agile Mindsets in the Classroom: A Conversation with Jessica Cavallaro and Roslynn Jackson | Tim Logan | 4 Min Read

Published 9/13/2021 and 12/27/2022

The Agile Mindset with Jessica Cavallaro and Roslynn Jackson, co-founders of The Agile Mind and teachers at the Pine Crest School in Florida, show teachers how to use an Agile mindset to help students acquire the skills needed to solve real world problems while learning educational concepts.

Agile is not about knowing all the jargon. It is a thought process. It is rigorous.

“This makes your life easier. It is a win-win for everyone. You don’t have to know it all to be able to try it. Agile is a methodology. You can do it now. You can give your kid that power now. The more you know, the more you practice it. The better you get for your students.”–Roslyn.

Jessica, a middle school English teacher, is an innovative educator and curriculum designer. She is a PBL and Design Thinking champion who creates purposeful learning experiences, both inside and outside the classroom. Jessica is passionate about putting students first and developing real-life skills in the classroom. After experiencing hybrid learning at the beginning of the pandemic, Jessica was concerned about students’ lost connections and lack of human contact. She saw Agile as the solution to keep students collaborating, connected, creating, and learning. As a new system for her, Agile immediately showed its value because Jessica had more one-on-one time with students. She could circulate and meet students’ needs.

Roslyn, a middle school science teacher, believes that failures are the stepping stone to success. Roslyn, like Jessica, is a PBL champion and likes to make science fun while keeping her students moving around the classroom. Agile as a mindset helped her first. It allowed her to complete projects that had been languishing. It allowed her to develop more self-management skills and get over the finish line. Her personal experience gave her the confidence to use Agile in the classroom. 

They explain that Scrum, Agile, and Kanban give students more autonomy and make learning visible. For Jessica, Scrum’s five rituals fit really well into a unit: sprint planning, sprint (work), sprint review, sprint retrospective, and the daily scrum (students coming together). As a backward design educator, she gave students the essential question and the rubrics. She put all the content in a document titled the task grid so students can plan everything themselves. Students had to build their own paths. There were checkpoints and standards, so students still accomplished deep learning. The key difference is that students have to decide when they are doing what. Jessica doesn’t care how they get to that learning goal, as long as they get there. Roslyn, who began applying Agile mid-year, gave her students fixed timelines but they still had to collaborate in their groups to figure out how to accomplish their tasks. Roslyn included reflections on collaboration, what students learned about working together, and learned from other groups. So it is a multilayered learning experience. They both assert that Scrum and Agile give students the ability to make decisions themselves and manage their time. It gives students essential life skills that aren’t explicitly taught in school. 

It is important for teachers that they don’t have to know all the terminology before using Agile, especially because the students won’t know it either. Teachers can learn the terminology as they use it. Agile is a system that allows students to collaborate, connect, create, communicate, and pivot if it isn’t working. It can fit with any learning content.

Jessica Cavallaro is an innovative educator and curriculum designer who brings the agile mindset into the classroom. She is a champion of project based learning and creating purposeful educational experiences both in and out of the classroom. Jessica has delved into applying Agile and Scrum to keep students connected, collaborating and creating while teaching in a hybrid setting. She is passionate about developing better systems that put students first in education.

Roslynn Jackson is an educator that believes failures are the stepping stones to success. She is a co-founder of the Agile Mind, which strives to help teachers learn to use an Agile mindset to help students acquire the skills they need to solve real world problems while learning educational concepts. She is passionate about making education engaging and meaningful for teachers and their students.  She believes the best strategies for doing so involve “organized chaos” and getting your hands dirty- this means using systems that provide opportunities for authentic hands-on learning. Roslynn believes that using Agile skills with students, and helping other educators to do the same, is the way to transform our education framework into one that truly prepares our learners for the real world challenges ahead of them, and gives them the tools to do it.

Social Links

Jessica – LinkedIn: @jessicacavallaro; Twitter: @JesGilbert5

Roslynn – LinkedIn: @roslynn-jackon; Twitter: @RoslynnJackson

Tim Logan

Tim Logan is an experienced school leader and curriculum designer, with a passion for connecting and facilitating global networks of innovative educators. As well as being a member of the BU Agile Innovation Lab, Tim works with the world’s top international schools, as part of Notosh strategic design consultancy, and produces the “ground-breaking” podcast, Future Learning Design.

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