An Independent School • Grades 5-12

In the third article in our re-envisioning series, we begin to explore the competencies and mindsets that the re-envisioning task force believes students will need most to thrive in the future. We also preview upcoming videos for parents and guardians and the opportunity to give feedback.

A new way of thinking about learning: competencies and mindsets

As we have shared previously, our world is experiencing the greatest period of change in two centuries. This fourth industrial revolution is the result of globalization and technological advancements in robotics, artificial intelligence, deep learning, and other applications of information. “The world of 2050 will be different,” says Head of School Bernie Noe. “For our students – and for everyone.”

Based on research about these sweeping changes, Lakeside is working on shifting how and what we teach, to better prepare students for personal and professional success. In last year’s exploration of the future of education, Lakeside administrators and faculty determined that we need to focus on developing students’ competencies and mindsets. Lakeside’s re-envisioning task force defines competencies as what graduates can do, and mindsets as who graduates are – what they value, how they behave, and the frames through which they see the world.  While content, sometimes referred to as “domain knowledge” (dates, equations, etc.), remains important, it will become secondary to what students can do with their knowledge.

This shift to focusing on competencies and mindsets is part of a larger educational movement that focuses on mastery and personalization, according to Eric Hudson, Director of Learning and Design at Global Online Academy (GOA). Organizations like the Mastery Transcript Consortium, Challenge Success,  and GOA, academics like Carol Dweck and Angela Duckworth, and the widespread movement to focus on the importance of social-emotional learning, are raising awareness that how students are taught needs to change. As Bonnie Lathram, Director of Professional Learning at GOA recently wrote, “We are in the midst of a groundswell of interest in, and devotion to, the social, emotional, and academic needs of students …. Teaching the whole child includes, and perhaps privileges, mastery of skills, dispositions, and mindsets associated with supporting each student.”

Over the past year, the re-envisioning task force has identified six competencies and seven mindsets they believe Lakeside should focus on teaching students over the course of their time at the school. In order to arrive at this list, the task force asked themselves the question: Within the framework of Lakeside’s mission and values, how do we teach students to make good decisions and act on them?

Feedback on competencies and mindsets

In late August, faculty and representatives from the student body, parents and guardians, staff, alumni, and Board of Trustees provided feedback on the emerging list of skills, competencies, and mindsets that the re-envisioning task force believes students will need most to thrive in the future. “Our educational program will be structured around teaching students competencies, mindsets, and content,” says Noe. “It’s the mission of the school, operationalized.”

On Nov. 1, Noe will formally present the competencies and mindsets to the Board of Trustees (many of whom have been deeply involved in the re-envisioning process). In the following two weeks, Noe will present the list to Upper School and Middle School students and solicit their feedback.

The week of Nov. 4, parents and guardians will receive an email and videos from Noe with information about the competencies and mindsets. Parent and guardian feedback is highly desired!

Noe stresses: “If you are going to send your child to Lakeside, you will want to understand how we define a mindset and a competency, and, in particular, what competencies and mindsets we think are important and why.” Assistant Head of School/Upper School Director Felicia Wilks adds, “It’s important that parents and guardians understand the importance of these concepts – and share their thoughts on them. At the end of this feedback cycle, the list of competencies and mindsets will be set, forming the basis for decisions about the academic year calendar, the daily schedule, Lion term (our name for an experiential minimester), and Upper School internship program.”

Next steps

Once the competencies and mindsets are finalized, we will move toward making decisions about the structure of the academic program. That includes the length and organization of the academic year and school day, as well as special programs we don’t currently offer (internships, intensives, etc.). We will collect feedback about those programs this winter.

At the same time, a group of teachers dubbed the vanguard group will begin working with Hudson and Lathram of GOA. They’ll be piloting units and assessments that focus on teaching competencies and mindsets. Those teachers will also begin to identify how to balance the teaching of course content with the teaching of competencies and mindsets. We’ll share more information about the vanguard group’s work in an upcoming article.

Stay tuned!

Next week, parents and guardians will receive an email and videos from Noe with information about the competencies and mindsets. Please send us your feedback! Details on submitting feedback will be included in Noe’s email.

Parents and guardians are invited to a Q&A about the re-envisioning on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. Join Noe, Wilks, and Middle School Director Elaine Christensen in Kent Evans auditorium in Allen-Gates Hall on the Upper School campus. More information will be included in the email from Noe next week.

You can find all of the articles and information about the re-envisioning on the just-launched re-envisioning webpage: lakesideschool.org/re-envisioning. That page will be updated regularly.

And watch for the January Inside Lakeside article with more re-envisioning updates.