During the months of March and April, the Strategic Coherence Planning Team convened to drill down into the eight 21st century skills that we consider to be critical for all students to acquire during their time in the district. Our belief is that throughout their experience in the district, students should become comfortable thinking critically, solving problems, collaborating and communicating and learning to be resilient, flexible and adaptive, able to persevere and become civically and ethically responsible members of society. As you’ve read in previous blogs, these skills are essential for life, work and on-going learning.
Two groups of educators have met twice a month since August: the original Strategic Coherence Team (SCP), which worked on the development of the plan and an expanded group that includes our Liaisons who are the department/content specialists at each school and administrators. The SCP Team also includes two high school students. Each team had taken the work discussed and developed during the monthly meetings back to their respective building based teams, departments or grade level groups to share and enlist their perspectives on how we are defining these eight skills. The question at the heart of these conversations is does this make sense to you and if it doesn’t, how can we make the language clearer.
We are now at the point where we are considering how to streamline the definitions of these eight competencies. For example, we discussed how perseverance and resilience are similar and could we live with just one and if so, which one? We are looking at how to integrate problem solving and critical thinking into one skill and civic and ethical responsibility into one skill. These conversations have been rich and illustrative of the progress that we’ve made in understanding and defining these skills. Our goal is to narrow the eight down to five skills so that educators can more easily make sense of these in the next phase of the work, which requires them to plan ways to integrate these skills into curriculum, instruction, assessment, learning environments and professional learning. Our work next year is to develop examples of how these skills are integrated and taught. This is the exciting, yet daunting work ahead of us. We will continue to bring educators together on a monthly basis to share practices and make decisions about how this work will impact all students in the district.