Ainsley Rose, The Leadership and Learning Center
What do we want students to learn? How do we know they have achieved that learning?
We need to ask what our graduates will need to succeed in the 21st century, and whether our curriculum reflects a world that has changed a great deal over the last 60 years. This kind of reflection shifts our focus from teachers teaching to students learning, and it ensures that what we’re doing here remains relevant to our students and to the world.” The Road Ahead
What do we do if they haven’t? What do we do if they already know what you’re teaching?
How do we teach in order for students to learn?
Self-examination, gathering data, weekly chair symposiums— all this important work takes time, and time is a precious commodity at Deerfield. Collegial summer sessions have yielded good initial results among departments— unified multi-section classes are an excellent example of this—but what about growth during the school year, when time is at a premium and schedules are already full? Taylor, Warsaw, and the department chairs looked to the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and Professor Richard Elmore for guidance. Professor Elmore advocates Instructional Rounds, which is a program of sharing for educators that translates the familiar medical model of doctors sharing knowledge in “Grand Rounds” to the academic world. The key to Instructional Rounds, much like Ainsley Rose’s checklist for self-evaluation,
is to remain studentcentric. “In contrast to individual faculty evaluation, classroom observation is designed to gauge how the institution is doing: What do we want our students to learn, and how well are they learning it?” Warsaw says. Back in the conference room, John Taylor has finished his morning mate, and his colleagues have dispersed to their individual classrooms. He sits quietly again for a few more minutes— a thoughtful expression on his face. “The job description for ‘chair’ is more complicated than ever before,” he comments. “We’re asking for a sophisticated kind of leadership that will include professional development plans, student questionnaires, and curriculum reviews for each department. Essentially, we’re asking our chairs to become academic stewards, ambassadors and translators between the administration and the teachers, and the
antennae that keep us tuned in to the world beyond the Pocumtuck Valley.” Taylor admits there are challenges to fulfilling this mission but firmly believes the new initiatives are the set-up for a richer student experience. Peter Warsaw echoes his colleague: “As ‘trustees’ of Deerfield Academy, we have an acute responsibility to create the structures necessary to keep us abreast in a rapidly changing world. Obviously our past performance has been extraordinarily effective but the world is changing exponentially; Deerfield must progress in a balanced and responsible way in embracing that change—preserving the best of our past, while weighing what might become the best of our future. With coherent institutional growth, we will further the mission of our school and our students—and our faculty will move this vehicle down the road, metaphorically speaking.”••
The alumni journal of Deerfield Academy