Ali lives in Vermont with her husband, Isaac, and a ragtag family of adopted animals in their newly renovated historic home.
Ali Brown | Director of Learning Transformation
At 2Rev, Ali primarily works as a field-facing leader, working on diverse collaborative teams to foment change at the level of both model and system. Ali’s intellectual energies are at their peak when she is engaged in integrative design, creatively synthesizing existing ideas with new ones to advance what’s possible in teaching and learning. Ali also thrives when facilitating learning experiences that harness the full power of the room and help learners extend beyond what they thought was possible for themselves. Her excitement is ignited when she actively works in building a powerful cadre of adult learning facilitators, using ninja-like powers to transform adult learning in service of student learning.
Prior to working at 2Rev, Ali was the founding senior director of Achievement First’s history program from 2008-2014. In partnership with teachers, Ali designed the K-12 AF history program from the ground up, developing and executing the program vision, course of study, curriculum, assessments, and teacher and leader professional development across the public charter growing network of schools. While working at Achievement First, Ali also consulted with the New York State Education Department on social studies standards and assessments and served as a founding curriculum writer and instructor for the Relay Graduate School of Education, a competency-based teacher education program. Before that, Ali taught middle and high school students for six years in a variety of locations, from the Bronx to Kentucky. Ali holds a Masters in Teaching and graduated from Indiana University’s honors program, triple-majoring in philosophy, religious studies, and sociology.
How do we create meaningful learning experiences for adults and kids?
I think the way adults and kids learn best is more similar than different. We all want meaningful learning experiences, which share certain defining features. First and foremost, meaningful learning is authentic. The boundaries between learning and living dissolve, and we find ourselves purusing solutions to complex problems we care deeply about and feeling deeply rewarded when we see we’ve made a positive change. Second, meaningful learning is empowering. The “teacher” serves as a facilitator instead of a disseminator of knowledge, working to harness the collective power of students in a deeply learner-centered way. Third, meaningful learning is necessarily personalized. It’s flexible so that each student can learn right at the edge of their current abilities, fueled by their passions and interests. Finally, meaningful learning is collaborative. We need one another to arrive at the best ideas, and the power of feedback and idea sharing can’t be underestimated.
What do you want to change most about school?
I want schools to be places where children’s natural curiosities are fostered instead of quashed; places where creative energies expand and fuel one another; where the solutions to the world’s most complex problems are generated; where every kid can grow a positive identity and firm beliefs about their ability to influence the world around them for the better. In order to do this, I believe we need to radically transform existing conceptions about the schooling experience: we need to transform our understanding of the roles of students and teachers, move away from grade level assumptions, and break out of traditional subject-area silos. I want to see the light in kids’ eyes as they engage in interdisciplinary project-based learning, structured around interests of their choosing. I want to hear the sounds of controlled chaos as kids work together to solve challenging problems. I want to share in the sheer joy of a kid successfully overcoming a challenge - that moment of delight and self-confidence when understanding breaks through to the next place.