Two Questions On My Mind – How We Spend Our School Time

For some time, I’ve been contemplating more than a couple of questions. Yet these two keep emerging for me in the past few days and weeks…

  1. If most life is project-based, is it too much to devote ~10% wk in project-origin in school? (3.5 of 35 hrs.) 2.5 hrs is pass time! ON TWITTER
  2. Interesting to visit schools July-Aug, and on Sat/Sun. Lots of sports practices. I wonder… why we feel we cannot “practice” academics too ON TWITTER

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What if schools embraced (at least a bit more of) the unknown? Yes, and…

What if we structured (at least some) time in school to provide for the type of research that Uri Alon describes in his talk: “Why truly innovative science demands a leap into the unknown?”

What if we recognized and said “Yes, and…” to the likelihood that genuine and authentic research – the kind that stems from deep questioning and sustained curiosity – is most likely to lead learners (young and old) into the “Cloud” that Uri talks about?

What if we did more science – practiced more of being scientists – than just studying science in school?

What if we reverse engineered (at least part of) school and created margins and white space for the kind of exploration and discovery that bypasses the points A—>B path that we expect and embraces the unexpected “point C” that Uri shares with us?

What if we allowed time for learners to originate their journey(s) from projects of significant and profound interest to them and made it okay to reroute numerous times along the way?

What if we had at least two points of origin for the kinds of work we do in schools: 1) subject-area points of origin that later find projects, and 2) project points of origin that later find disciplinary avenues? What if we built schedules to allow for – and to encourage – both/and? And the weaving together of the two…. What if we widened the spectrum of school learning to more closely match with life learning (before and after school years)? How might we ignite more play, passion, and purpose in these ways?

What if we built capacity as faculty members and community partners to facilitate the type of relational way-finding that Uri declares is the nature of true, meaningful searches? What if we more significantly prioritized the guide-on-the-side postures by making room for the student learners to be the chief navigators of (a more significant amount of) their journeys?

What if you watched Uri’s talk and figured out ways that its corp might change the core of your classroom practices and school-day architecture?

Solution Seekers, TMB Panyee Football Club, HT @MikeyCanup

What if we never said, “It can’t be done?”

#GrowthMindset

#SolutionSeeker

HT @MikeyCanup

Innovative School Seeks Innovative Leader

HEAD OF UPPER SCHOOL
Position Description

Innovative school seeking innovative leader. Mount Vernon Presbyterian School is accepting applications for the position of Head of Upper School (Available June/July 2014). Head of Upper School reports directly to Head of School and collaborates with Chief Learning and Innovation Officer and School division leaders.

Mission and Vision

We are a school of inquiry, innovation, and impact. Grounded in Christian values, we prepare all students to be college ready, globally competitive, and engaged citizen leaders. Established in 1972, Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, serving 900 students in preschool through grade 12, is located in the heart of Sandy Springs, Georgia within the metropolitan Atlanta area. Located on the 30-acre Glenn Campus, the Upper School (grades 9-12) student body has more than doubled in size during the last five years and is projected to exceed 300 students in 2-3 years.

We are building something exceptional here. The School is in the midst of a new era of exploration and innovation, under the guidance of an energized staff, Board, and faculty leadership as well as committed and connected families. As an outward expression of our inward passion, the 2012-2017 Strategic Plan is driven by a fundamental MVPS question: How might we innovate school to meet the needs our students and our world? The School has been aggressive in launching key programs to position our students as realizers of our mission: Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation(MVIFI), Mount Vernon Mind, Council on Innovation, Center for Design Thinking, Innovation Diploma, Interim international travel opportunities, transdisciplinary education capstone project, College and Work Readiness Assessment, Write Now, and //fuse to name a few.

Roles and Responsibilities

Amplifying the mission and executing the vision of the School, Head of Upper School plays a creative and collaborative role:

  • cultivating and nurturing strong relationships within the School community–students, faculty, parents and other partners.
  • designing a vigorous, relevant, and innovative learning and assessment map for each Upper School learner–students, as well as faculty.
  • employing a variety of evidence-based and innovative approaches and methodologies in order to engage and motivate students of this generation.
  • exercising an innovator’s DNA–observing, questioning, experimenting, networking, and associating.
  • providing professional learning opportunities supporting individual staff needs/organizational goals.
  • co-chairing Research & Design (R&D) teams.
  • developing partnerships with corporate sector, non-profit community, and civic organizations.
  • researching, identifying, and advancing innovative programs.
  • retaining and attracting high performing teaching candidates.
  • overseeing the day-to-day operations–schedule, meetings, events, calendar, and facility spaces.

Interested candidates should send a cover letter, resume, and link to professional portfolio to employment@mountvernonschool.org.

A big-picture vision for nurturing innovators in Lower School. Guest post @CliffordShelley #MVPSchool

The letter to parents quoted below came from Mount Vernon Presbyterian School‘s Lower School Division Head, Shelley Clifford. I’m so fortunate that she is my sons’ principal.

Dear Mount Vernon Families,

In the spirit of starting with questions, what do you hope for your child to learn this semester? The Lower School teachers returned on January 6 and reflected upon this question. How might we intentionally use the 94 remaining days of this school year to inspire and encourage our children to pursue their unique passions and gifts? Specifically in the month of January, Lower School will focus on the Mount Vernon Mindset, Innovator.

Innovators explore and experiment in a climate of change. They build resilience through risk-taking and setbacks. Innovators create unique ideas with value and meaning. Kindergartners will practice their empathy and innovation skills by embarking on their first Design Thinking Project. Be sure to ask your Kindergartner about the Gingerbread Challenge. Second graders have already begun exploring the essential question, “How does learning about inventors and inventions affect our outlook on the world and help us be creative thinkers and innovators?”

All students are engaging in visible thinking routines, long-term projects, and discoveries that focus on habits of an innovator. These habits include: starting with questions, engaging in observations, and thriving from collaboration with others.

Regular practice of these skills builds curiosity, so much so we would like to join you in celebrating your child’s sense of wonder as you encourage him or her to observe and experiment at home. Embrace the endless “Why?” questions, and make associations between the strange and the familiar. Finally, collaborate with your learner and encourage him or her to collaborate with other people who may have different perspectives.

If you would like to explore one of our favorite resources on this topic, check out The Innovator’s DNA; here is a link to the book.

Kind regards,

Shelley Clifford

Head of Lower School

[excerpt posted with permission, as guest post]