An Independent School • Grades 5-12

In the new calendar year, Lakeside’s re-envisioning process is entering a new phase of decision making. 

Feedback on competencies and mindsets

This past November, Lakeside shared a series of videos explaining the decision to focus Lakeside’s educational program on developing students’ competencies (what our graduates can do) and mindsets (who our graduates are), in addition to academic content. Head of School Bernie Noe described the six competencies and seven mindsets Lakeside will focus on teaching students over the course of their time at the school. In many cases, said Noe, the competencies and mindsets “will sound familiar because we already teach them at Lakeside. But going forward, we want to be more intentional about how we teach them and how we measure them.” You can find the videos (and the transcripts) on the re-envisioning webpage.

The response to the videos was overwhelmingly positive. In their advisories, students submitted their thoughts via a survey, while parents and guardians attended an evening event and offered reactions by email. “Thank you to everyone who watched the videos and shared their thoughts with us,” says Head of School Bernie Noe. “People were thoughtful in their feedback and it’s clear that both the competencies and mindsets resonated with people’s personal experiences.” The videos have had a combined 1,300 views, and more than 1,000 people have visited the re-envisioning webpage, where information about the re-envisioning can be found.

Based on the feedback, the re-envisioning task force made final tweaks to the definitions of the competencies and mindsets; the final language can now be found online. On Dec. 19, Lakeside’s Board of Trustees approved the school’s plan to move forward with incorporating the competencies and mindsets into the curriculum.

A group of teachers, dubbed the “vanguard group,” has been working to incorporate specific competencies into units they will pilot this winter. Those teachers have begun to identify how to balance the teaching of course content with the teaching of competencies and mindsets, and how to assess students’ progress. “We know that there will be a tradeoff between teaching competencies and mindsets, and teaching content,” said Noe in the videos. “We will of course continue to teach the subjects we’ve always taught, but there will be a change in the balance of asking our students to learn course content and to use that content in practice to solve problems.” The vanguard group, and other work by faculty, will be dedicated to determining that balance.

Upcoming decisions: Academic calendar and Upper School schedule

Now that the list of competencies and mindsets are finalized, the school will move toward making decisions about the structure of the academic program. That includes the length and organization of the academic year calendar (when school is in session) and the daily Upper School schedule. The Middle School daily schedule, which launched this fall after piloting in spring 2019, has proved to be enormously popular and will not change.

Work on the academic year calendar began in spring 2019. A calendar and schedule committee composed of faculty, staff, and administrators came together to research potential calendars, schedules, and dedicated time during the school year for students to focus on single topics, perhaps through experiential learning. The committees presented to the entire faculty and staff in late August and have received periodic feedback this fall from student groups and PGA leadership.

At the same time, committee members and other stakeholders worked with consulting firm ISM, which brings research-driven best practices to independent school schedules. The goal, says Assistant Head of School/Upper School Director Felicia Wilks, is an Upper School schedule that creates an optimal environment for deep learning, facilitates student well-being, and builds a strong sense of community. The schedule that will be presented to students this January is derived from best practices, as defined by ISM and Challenge Success, and adapted for Lakeside’s unique community. “There is no ‘perfect’ schedule,” notes Upper School Assistant Director Hans de Grys, “but we feel that this one strikes a balance between students having extended time in class to deeply explore topics and concepts and free time to meet with teachers and connect with each other.”

Learn more about the proposed schedule in the Tatler's article, "Administrators to pilot new Upper School block schedule."

Opportunities for feedback

Over the next two months, administrators will ask for feedback on the proposed changes to the academic year calendar (from students and parents/guardians) and Upper School schedule (from students).

In February, parents and guardians will receive an email and video from Noe with information about the proposed changes to the academic year calendar. Details on submitting feedback will be included in Noe’s email. Parents and guardians will be invited to a Q&A about the calendar with Noe, Wilks, and Middle School Director Elaine Christensen in Evans Theater on the Middle School campus. More information will be included in the email from Noe. Middle and Upper school students will be invited to provide feedback on the calendar during advisories.

Upper School students will also provide feedback to a proposed Upper School schedule. The goal is to collect preliminary feedback this winter and pilot the Upper School schedule in the spring.

Update on internships

Last spring and summer, a small working group explored the possibility of establishing an internship program for Upper School students. Findings from that group were presented in August to faculty and staff, and at the board retreat in November. Given the timing of other calendar and curricular changes, the board decided to pause the development of a formal internship program. Administrators and faculty will work with trustees and other members of the community to explore additional ways that students could learn about professional fields and gain real-world experiences.

Stay tuned!

As noted above, parents and guardians will receive an email and video from Noe with information about the proposed academic year calendar changes. Please send us your feedback!

Watch for the February Inside Lakeside article with re-envisioning updates, including an update about the work of the vanguard group.

Read Bernie Noe’s article about how the re-envisioning incorporates what we’ve learned in our equity and inclusion initiative, Our Work Together, and builds on that work.

You can find all of the articles and information about the re-envisioning on the re-envisioning webpage: lakesideschool.org/re-envisioning.