Posted on February 18, 2013
In four days a whirlwind of learning! Chinese New Year celebration with the festive lion troupe, the clang of cymbals and vibrating drums preparing the way for the Year of the Snake. A schoolwide morning assembly with guest teacher-musician John Farrell sharing his message on how to respectfully treat one another. A feverish Valentine's Day with hand-made cards and sweet treats. And rope-jumping for good health and the American Heart Association, organized by PE teacher Bruce Black. How could any student not want to come to school and miss all of this excitement?! But wait. There's more.
While there were learning experiences galore for the students, the faculty had their fair share of "excitement" by way of an all-school professional development day this past Friday. The day began introspectively, reflecting on ourselves as teaching professionals and sharing "Who I Am as a Teacher" in small, intimate, mixed groups. Larger group discussions followed, again in mixed groups, this time focused on thinking about curriculum -- the role of curriculum in a school and what the role should be; the role of key players in creating curriculum, namely the teacher, students, colleges, employers, and government; the process for designing curriculum; the criteria for determining quality curriculum; and the challenges in re-designing a K-12 curriculum.
In another session following a strict protocol, teachers representing different grade levels and content areas shared student work and assessment tools from a unit of study while their colleagues analyzed samples of student learning. By looking carefully at student work, teachers explored the relationship between artifacts of learning and curriculum and considered how looking at student work can inform the curriculum.
But it wasn't all work. During lunch, six teams of teachers in mixed groups participated in a "cupcake challenge" organized by middle school faculty Gale Ikeda and Faye Aki. Game players created their interpretation of curriculum as a modern-day "bazaar" or marketplace of ideas and innovative practice as opposed to curriculum as a medieval cathedral, unmovable and stalwart, despite the changing times. Creative, our teachers are!
For the first time in nine years, I missed the Chinese New Year celebration because I was on an accreditation visiting team to a local preschool through high school community, serving as the assistant chair. Participation as a team member is one of the best professional development experiences possible. By looking at a school through the lens of mission, philosophy, governance, educational program, finances. facilities, resources, and parents, you gain an appreciation for the complexity of the roles and responsibilities of a school's constituencies and their inter-relationship. Moreover, Hawai`i is unique in the diversity of independent schools. There is, indeed, a place of learning for every child.
I am always grateful to return home to Mid-Pacific Institute, knowing that I have responsibilities to our students, their families, and the faculty. I am also humbled to be part of a community rich in its own history here in Manoa and guided by a vision of what learning can and should be for our students.
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey