Can A School Truly Change?

It began with the need…

At West Grand Middle School, student need was not being addressed. Something had to change.

Parents knew it. Admin knew it. Teachers knew it. What they didn’t know was the answer. More importantly they didn’t know the question.

We’ve tried X, Y and Z before. They don’t work.

By now, my staff knows that I am a ‘What If’ and not a ‘Can’t’ kinda guy. So I posed the questions: HMW create an inspiring learning environment that is engaging, rigorous and authentic?…HMW pivot the model of conventional thinking to create a culture of successful, lifelong learners?…HMW show students that we care deeply about them and their future?

Hopes & Fears
Hopes & Fears

From there, the journey began. The teachers committed themselves to changing the way they viewed middle school.

They understood the challenges ahead, but they believed the return on their investment far outweighed any hesitation.

The idea was simple: Create a middle school schedule that is conducive to an interdisciplinary field of study while maintaining—to quote Tom VanderArk—a ‘high agency’ approach to the particular disciplines.

Why an interdisciplinary approach? Because life is not experienced in segments. The world around us is not a series of disconnected occurrences.

Why a ‘high agency’ approach? Because if we can’t get students to the point of owning their learning, they will never adopt a connection to education that is intrinsically-motivating and rooted in deep thinking.

0115161000We are very much in the early stages of this process. Teachers are hard at work creating units of study that will be eye-opening experiences for each and every student who passes through the hallways of West Grand Middle School. 0115160938a

There is no playbook for what we are trying to do. We’re not even sure where the road ends. Perhaps that is beauty behind it all. The possibilities are limitless…stay tuned!


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