Problem Statement for Adaptability Project Meeting on 3.23.15

The Adaptability Project is comprised of a group of George School faculty members who will come together over a two-year period to study the new landscape of secondary education. We will share readings, discuss vision and strategy, and engage the community in a larger conversation about how the school can adapt as we strive to remain vital and relevant.

It looks like we are finally getting down to brass tacks on the Adaptability Project. This coming Monday we will begin to focus in on the actual areas of interest we each hope to explore over the remaining life of the project. To whit, we’ve been asked to bring a “problem statement” that we can work on with a partner using a Design Thinking framework. Here’s mine:

How can our school remain relevant in the face of disruptive new players entering the market? How do we respond to technological disruption with a value proposition of our own? How do we continue to offer “transformational teaching” when more and more instruction is being delivered digitally?

We’ve been asked repeatedly throughout the project not to prejudge the outcome. That is tough for me, but I’m trying my best to comply. To address the problem I’ve identified above, I want to explore blended learning, unbundling, BYOD policies, STEAM, the Maker movement, 20% time, and other recent pedagogies. I’ve already been experimenting with some of these concepts in my class this year. For instance, I’ve flipped my vocabulary instruction (a blended learning strategy), and I’ve instituted a BYOD policy that has students using their devices productively in class. I stopped short of putting 20% time in place this year, but I am still considering it for next year. The STEAM and Maker movement concepts are less relevant in my English classroom, but as a former art history teacher, I try to integrate an analysis of design from time to time as the opportunity arises.

Without prejudging the outcome too much, where (in broad strokes) do I think this is going? What do we need to do in order to remain relevant? Instruction is going to need to become more personalized. The needs of each student are going to have to be met with greater individualization, and that will be data-driven. Technology will play a significant role by helping teachers assess what each student’s strengths and weaknesses are, and less and less time will be spent in a “sage on the stage” mode in the classroom. A teacher who today teaches four class sections might in the future teach two or three, but she will spend the freed-up time in one-on-one instructional (or very small group) meetings.

None of the thoughts in the previous paragraph are revolutionary. They are threatening to traditional classroom teachers who fear change, however. As for me, I side with Eric Shinseki on this issue: “If you dislike change, you’re going to dislike irrelevance even more.” The focus of my Adaptability Project problem is staving off irrelevance.


One thought on “Problem Statement for Adaptability Project Meeting on 3.23.15

  1. Rosalie SiegelRsiegel

    Very well written, Eric.

    My high school experience, except for painting classes, was all sage on a stage. Great expression.

    I always wished I could have gone to Oxford where students “read” a particular subject, meet with a tutor one on one to discuss,and the write a paper. Now that is individualized instruction. Of course on the high school level you have to cover many subjects.

    Sent from my iPad



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