Many of you have been hearing from me regularly, in our weekly Virtually Lakeside emails, but today I want to return to a topic that I spoke and wrote about a lot earlier this year: Lakeside’s re-envisioning.
This past week we decided to delay by one year the decision about the new all-school calendar and Lion Term, the cool new opportunity we are developing for students to have a wider variety of educational experiences through projects, experiential education, or specialized classes. We decided this is not the time to make significant changes, with the amount of change everyone is experiencing now due to COVID-19, and because there is no guarantee that next year will be entirely normal. So, the changes to the school calendar and Lion Term will be implemented in the 2022-2023 school year (when this year’s 9th graders are seniors).
We will, though, continue with our plans to implement a competencies and mindsets curriculum during the 2021-2022 school year — the year after next. As you know, we have determined the competencies and mindsets that we believe our students will need to thrive in the world of 2050, and by the end of the year will have determined how they will spiral through the different grades. This summer, and continuing through next year, the faculty will prepare to teach these competencies and mindsets, and we will determine how to assess students’ acquisition of them.
Ironically, COVID-19 and the rapid transition to remote learning for teachers and students has led to a curriculum more focused on competencies and mindsets. Teachers are making decisions now about what content is essential to teach and what to let go of, trusting that students can learn that additional content when and if they need it. They are also thinking about the critical competencies that students need in this time period, to thrive in their studies next year. Online teaching lends itself to a skills and competencies approach, so this remote learning period is giving the faculty a jump on the work they would have started next year.
The whole transition to remote learning has been an exercise in unstructured problem-solving (one of our competencies) for both students and faculty. Everyone is adjusting, iterating, and perfecting what they are doing. I spoke with the teacher of an advanced course last week who told me, “we are covering all of the concepts we typically cover at this time of year, but I am assigning fewer projects related to each concept.” We are of course still teaching content and always will be, but in the future, we will find a greater balance between content, competencies, and mindsets.
It is too early to say for certain what long-term changes will be brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes it has necessitated in people’s lives. But I am willing to bet that remote learning and working will play even greater roles in everyone’s lives. We will prepare our students to thrive in this significantly changed world.
Take good care everyone, and stay healthy!
Bernie Noe is Lakeside’s head of school. You can reach him at Head'sOffice@lakesideschool.org and 206-440-2714.