During this past week, we welcomed our staff back to school to ready ourselves for the coming school year. Well rested after a long summer vacation, everyone was ready to get started again.
In accordance with our organizational motto, “School Development is a way of life/Utveckling som tillstånd“, we began the week by reviewing how our students did last year and what did want to achieve this year.
Three specific development areas emerged:
To achieve an optimal understanding of what are students face as challenges and learning opportunities throughout their years at VRG, we have decided to strengthen our program teams. To not only define and build a common thread throughout the 3 years, but also help students to manage a sustainable workload allowing each student to do his/her very best. We believe that it is only when students can see the connections between their different areas of knowledge that they can reach their fullest potential.
During this week, we have defined what a graduate from VRG Djursholm in each program should “look like” at graduation – which skills they should have, which experiences they should have had, which abilities and even which attitudes will help them the most after graduation. This is important work. It will continue throughout this year. And, students will be included in the work of “defining” our ideal graduate.
Over the past three years we have studied how to develop innovative learning environments: students’ abilities of self-assessment, value of trust in the classroom/relationships/growth mindset, varied assessment methods, formative working methods and how to use the right technology in the right way to lift the learning (we call this “pedagonik“). Now, we are ready to study, develop and implement the next step through Blended Learning Initiatives. We define blended learning as:
And, there is always a practical aspect to school start. That is no different for us. This year, our focus is on communication. How do we communicate effectively and efficiently? How do we communicate expectations in a way that all understand? How do we mix digital and analog information? How can we manage communication effectively to limit the cognitive stress of finding information or remembering details? As an institutional step, we are shifting to Schoolity as our student information system and to Canvas as our learning management system. We have identified all the challenges with communications between 504 students, 40 staff and 4 buildings. Now, we must continue the work of finding optimal solutions to these challenges. We are hoping our students will actively engage with us in this endeavor.
Happy to see each other again, satisfied with what we hope to accomplish clearly defined – now, we can’t wait to meet our students … Here we go again – Welcome to 2016-17!