Due Apr 1, 2015
“Connect people and cascade excellence” comes from Scaling Up Excellence, a book that the executive and administrative teams of MVPS read for the 2014-15 academic year. Because my work has been concentrated this year in the Upper School, I certainly believe that I have gotten to know this Upper School faculty team even better. What a blessing that has been for me - in only my second year at MVPS to know more deeply the people and purpose of the work in our Upper School division. For me personally, I do feel more connected to the people in this division. Primarily, my most direct connections have been with the group that we called the “Strategic Leadership Team” (Emily Breite, Krista Parker, Trey Boden, Kristyn Tumbleson, Meghan Cureton, Meg Brown, and Erin McCubbin). Because we were innovating our transdisciplinary program for a third year in a row, much of the work that the SLT focused on involved the (i)Project framework and structure. The Heads of Grade and Becky Tussey were also fundamentally and foundationally integral to this restructuring work. And the faculty implemented and co-developed the (i)Project framework with great commitment and determination. Truly, it was a tremendous team effort. And it is in this effort and progress that I see the most development of further shared language and understanding about what it means “to be the best at developing and delivering a 21st century learning experience.” Not at all to say that (i)Project is our only manifestation of that. Our (i)Project is a major component of our overall curriculum, but so are our subject-area courses. Yet, because of the intensity of entrepreneurial and start-up activity around the (i)Project framework, I believe this is the piece that best represents a critical way that we further developed our WIG#2 this year. I believe more of us see the power of project-point-of-origin work, while at the same time we recognize that we have more work to do to continue that development. I am grateful and thankful that we know in April that our schedule and (i)Project meta-structure will move forward with us into 2015-16, and I think we are set up for more balanced work in the year ahead. Connecting this progress to a 2015-16 focus on PBL stands as another example of how this connecting and cascading work - collaboratively done by so many, not just me - is helping us to further realize our mission, our vision, and our 2014-15 WIG#2.
On my particular action steps, I probably did not devote enough time to revisiting and revising those advancers. I did block weekly time for class observations and learning walks, and I did do those things regularly. However, I fell short of the spirit of this action step, and other appointments and meetings too often trumped what should be one of the absolute most sacred parts of my work - being in the classrooms and co-learning with my colleagues.
We did establish a “Collab” and “Salon” structure this year for the US faculty meetings on Wednesday afternoons, and I think that this increased our time together working on meaningful collaboration. Kristyn Tumbleson and Becky Tussey, as well as the Heads of Grade, really stand out in my mind of making these collabs so successful, for it was their tireless work that provided the opportunities and modeling to explore innovative teaching methods while advancing the work of our division, particularly that of (i)Project. And in the second semester, a number of faculty offered Salons in the spirit in which Salons are meant to happen - to more organically and spontaneously provide topics and means for us to work together on this profession which is so challenging and rewarding. In terms of MoVe talks, I think we started strong, and about 15 faculty delivered MoVe talks at some point during the year. Yet, we experienced a bit of a lull in the middle of the year, and I could have done a better job of ensuring that these ways of sharing were more consistently used. That’s my shortcoming, not the shortcoming of any of the Upper School team. Additionally, we’ve seen a cascading of MoVe talks among the students - for their (i)Projects, some opportunities in their subject-area classes, and in (i)Diploma.
Finally, for this particular goal’s action steps, we did pilot instructional rounds in the Upper School - through the SLT. We only conducted 2-3 rounds, but I think the experience clearly helped more people understand the potential power of the practice and understand the mechanics of what it might take to scale to the division. More work needs to be done here. And Folio is successfully launched through the good work and use of the Upper School team. We challenged ourselves through goal-setting and goals conversations, further connecting us and cascading our work as a division team. Mid-year conversations were conducted, and we are using end-of-year reflections to spur the summary thoughts of us all. I believe that the piloting of this process and tool helped our transformation to a more reflective practice and a commitment to professional learning over the “old fashioned” style of score-based evaluation that can often felt “done to” you instead of self-initiated and growth-oriented.
Due Apr 1, 2015
In my reflection above on Goal #1, I spoke to some of the ways that I co-built the structural skeleton for (i)Project. Sessions in September with Kristyn Tumbleson, Emily Breite, and Becky Tussey, in particular, helped set the stage for the evolution of our transdisciplinary program component of our curriculum. I believe the program improved through greater student choice and responded well to feedback from faculty and students, relative to the model used in 2013-14. The combining of (i)Project, WriteNOW, and ePortfolio seemed a really important programs evolution, and an important way to reduce the load that faculty are carrying for significant assessment of student learning - the streamlining was meant to help learners go more deeply into a fewer number of assignments and to help faculty provide more meaningful and thorough feedback on student narrative responses. Additionally, the continued work with Learnmetrics (albeit stalled early in the year) can open some outstanding opportunities for better assessment and archiving of student learning and growth.
Without a doubt a significant percentage of my time has been spent co-building the inaugural year and the future framework of the Innovation Diploma. Serving as advisor to the Disney Cohort and co-facilitator to Director Meghan Cureton has been extremely rewarding for me, and I hope supportive and helpful for the Cohort and Meghan. A deep understanding of the prototypes for iVenture, coVenture, and adVenture is probably my most enduring and exciting take-away from this year. It is from this prototype-based learning that Meghan and I are continuing to build a more robust model for the full, four-year program.
The powerful and positive storytelling that has come from both (i)Project and (i)Diploma is incredibly rewarding and encouraging, and it shows how our entrepreneurship and educational leadership is helping us and those beyond MVPS to more clearly define what it means to “be the best at developing and delivering a 21st century learning experience.”
Reflection on Standards of Professional Excellence 2014-15
A 21st century framework for designing student success and demonstrating student mastery requires Mount Vernon to develop a vigorous, relevant, and innovative learning and assessment map for each student; recognizes the critical process of employing a variety of approaches and methodologies in order to engage, empower, and motivate students of this generation; and prioritizes the professional learning of the faculty and staff in a global marketplace. The most important relationship for programmatic excellence -- academics, arts, athletics, and Christian studies -- is the relationship between a teacher and a student, both actively involved in a state of continuous learning. Therefore, the School seeks to design engaging, challenging, and applicable learning opportunities for all learners and assess the quality of student work demonstrated through a variety of qualitative and quantitative experiences. The following Standards of Professional Excellence serve as a framework for every faculty member at Mount Vernon:
Learning and Assessment Standards
REFLECTION: While Meghan Cureton serves as the Director of the Innovation Diploma program and deserves the lionshare of credit for this program launch, I am fortunate to serve as her co-teacher and co-facilitator, and I see that my growth in this segment of the SOPEs is best illustrated by my participation in (i)Diploma. So much of what we do in iD comes from the last 10 years of research in educational innovation, choice theory, and agency for citizen engagement. With help and support from Meghan and me, the twelve cohort members have made significant progress in the methods that are essential for a “student” to take more command and control over his/her learning. Much “detoxing” has had to occur because students are habituated to the “teacher” exercising serious power majority in deciding on the topics, paths, and lessons of which school learning will be comprised. The Disney Cohort has made great strides in developing the knowledge and skills to drive and navigate their own Venture (project) creation and management. Additionally, (i)Diploma very intentionally uses a model of providing opportunities for cohort members to be current resources for real-world work. Our design-thinking endeavors with the CDC, EdLeader21, Thrive, Schoen Insulation, NAES, MVPS Philanthropy, GLS and Education First, the College #MVRoundtable, and Fuse15 partnerships with MODA and other nonprofits in the GCN serve as prime examples of innovative instruction, as well as modern-day, evidence-based teaching. Infusing of the Mindsets, assessment of the Mindsets against real-world challenges, and engaging external experts are the “bread-and-butter” of the (i)Diploma program.
Additionally, we have launched uses of badges and microcredentialing, strengths-based psychology, and innovations with Folio to build robust assessment models with feedback-rich approaches to learning and growth. Much has been done with documentation of learning - via collective and individual blogs, uses of Folio, badges, photo capture and communications’ storytelling.
Student Engagement Standards
REFLECTION: This year’s launch of the (i)Diploma program stands as an extraordinary example and exemplar of “Design and expand programs of study that allow students to explore their questions, passions, and interests in a hands-on learning environment.” With weekly regularity, because we operate more like a start-up business venture than a “class,” we intentionally “seek feedback and measure attitudes, perceptions and beliefs” with our Disney Cohort. Because the Cohort drives the program - through their Venture work, they must actively participate and collaborate. For those who have struggled with such at times, Meghan and I have met with them in 1-on-1 meetings, we track progress and celebrate successes via Folio, and we have met with parents a few times. In addition to the technologies already mentioned, we have also trialed and tested a few tech tools, like group GHO and Slack. Through all of our channels and approaches, Meghan and I believe that we have built a strong cultural foundation for students to be more of the owners and originators of their learning, through development of disciplined use of the Innovator’s DNA behaviors (observing, questioning, experimenting, networking, and associating).
Professional Learning Standards
REFLECTION: This might be the section of the SOPEs at which I excel the most - my real strong point. I am a voracious and vigorous learner. I continue to rise at 3:30 to 4:00 a.m. everyday to engage in a huge part of my personal learning plan, particularly the part connected to educational and innovation-based podcasts, reading, and writing. I have not been as regular or active in my blogging this year - relative the to last six or seven years - but I do still maintain a very active blogging and micro-blogging thought-leadership discipline. I track my professional learning and reading via my blog, and I would encourage those who are interested to check out the examples of my more formal professional learning this year.
Professional Responsibility Standards
REFLECTION: I believe that I live out these professional responsibility standards each and every day. I do strive to live by Christian values and our MV Norms. When I do fall short, I apologize, if needed, and work hard to learn from the shortfall. I certainly see my primary work mission to be to steward and advance the goals and objectives in our MV mission and vision. My work with the Executive Team, Administration Team, Upper School SLT and L&I, the MVIFI d.Team, and the Innovation Diploma all hinge and focus on me being knowledgeable and advancing of the tenets of our mission and vision. I communicate intentionally and professionally with our various stakeholders, particularly the administrative leaders of the school, where my work concentrates. I could improve on participating in school life outside of school. I don’t have many regrets, but I do regret not being at more of the students’ extracurricular pursuits. My primary work “outside the classroom” this year has been to help build the future and next stage of MVIFI and the ambitious trajectory that we are setting for fuse15. We have developed business models and governance structures and bylaws for MVIFI and established zero-based budgeting for its programs and offerings.
Professional Learning and Growth Process
Mount Vernon’s Professional Learning and Growth Process is founded on our mission to be a school of inquiry, innovation, and impact. Combining observation, reflection, and supervision, MVPS employs a number of connected practices to promote, encourage, and support the professional development of faculty and staff in our learning community.
Faculty members will establish, share, and demonstrate fulfillment of professional goals each year. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
A Learning Walk is an informal visit to one or more learning environments conducted an administrator and/or members of the faculty. Learning walks may be unscheduled or invited. All faculty members will be required to participate in at least one learning walk each semester and document in the Written Self Reflection.
Faculty members will participate in instructional rounds for exploring the depths of practice. Similar to medical rounds in teaching hospitals, each instructional rounds team works collaboratively to dig deeply into professional practice over time. Collectively these methods enable the School to map and innovate our school holistically and systematically.
Written Self Reflection
Each faculty member will reflect in writing as an opportunity to revisit individual growth on the Standards of Professional Excellence, to set goals for the future, and share ideas for the ongoing improvement of the School.
The purpose of the Annual Review is to assess progress in meeting the Standards of Professional Excellence. The review is a structured opportunity for an administrator and a teacher to discuss and document progress in collegial responsibility, instructional skills, professional growth, and personal qualities. Note: All new faculty members will have two reviews - once in the fall and once in the spring.