Round and round… and round
Graded’s Curriculum Cycle has defined most of the last week and good, albeit messy, work is happening. We’re smack dab in the hardest part of the work for “Year 1” subjects, de/re -fining department missions. We’re not starting from scratch (which helps) but conversation at this stage is essential for colleagues to muck about in what can be — what should be — the expectations we have for student success. A commitment to a mission can have significant implications for our work. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves.
As I think through supporting this work, I’m sensitive to the fact that Graded, as most international schools, remains vulnerable to change. In the first stages of work, many commented on a concern of “not wanting to recreate the wheel,” or wanting to “get it done right the first time.” The nature of the cycle is intended to combat both – to build on what is in place and honor that improvement never ends. As thinking rises to the top, I’ve been grappling with how to embed the good ideas that are born in D-28 and E-12 into our current and continuing practices – and I think the second semester will be especially relevant in answering this question. Benchmarks aligned with grading practices, cornerstone assessments, clear and user-friendly communication tools, structures that carve out time to change our planning habits, orientation of new teachers and support for present teacher leaders in leading this work remain as tasks on my to-do list. (I’ve already started to rethink what my work looks like with principals in second semester). Already I see pieces that were started last year failing to take deep root (insert 6-12 thoughtful, strategic sequence of experimental design, a conventions scope and sequence for grades 5-8, essential learning outcomes for English/Language Arts here) and one can easily see how easy it is to invest and then revert back to “business as usual.” Sustaining change is the REAL hard work.
As I continue this work (work that has been at the center of my career for at least the last 10 years) I love the fact that we are still in dialogue with the likes of Herbert Spencer and John Dewey, and Paulo Friere. I applaud the hard work of asking, What is a Graded diploma worth?, and will continue to problem solve how to ensure the work we are doing today, will impact the learning of Graded tomorrow.