Takeaways from High Tech High

As mentioned, I had the chance to visit the cluster of charter schoo1s in San Diego known as High Tech High. Now that I have had a few days to reflect and to experience reentry into my own school, I wanted to share my thoughts on how to best integrate within and throughout the Kaua’i Pacific School community the most powerful ideas and concepts from the study tour.

Perhaps the most powerful “aha” was the realization that KPS is right on target with our emphasis on concepts over content, process over product and integrated projects over single subject assignments. However, there is much in place at High Tech High that we are still working on. I walked away with personal and specific commitments to make teaching and learning even better at KPS. Over the next several months, I commit to:

1. Encouraging & providing structures for review and refinement of projects through the use of a “project-tuning” protocol.
2. Starting a conversation about peace points.parties as classroom management tools. After hearing how Explorer Elementary organizes their community building using the Social Responsive Classroom Model (which we have some parts of in place), I wonder if having rewards and consequences might be counterproductive and confusing to children.
3. Sharing the Second Step Program as a process for working out conflicts between children.
4. Revisiting the conversation about what tech tools the teachers and students need at their fingertips.We have $8,000 left in this area this year in our grant and we need to spend it very thoughtfully and strategically. What will best enhance learning?
5. Thinking more about skills versus concepts. I don’t believe skills need to be taught before students can create complex projects. I think the skills are taught during the project work and that powerful differentiation can occur far more effectively with a project based approach.
6. Encouraging teachers to integrate their language arts and inquiry more often.
7. Reviewing the professional growth model to streamline it even more. Perhaps we can just have the self-assessment, walk-throughs with a simple checklist and reflection at the end of each unit of discovery.
8.Integrating and modeling structures for focused conversations about improving our practice.
9. Utilizing the NING more regularly to learn more from what other schools are doing.

As I think about moving forward and what our school can and should like in one, two, three and five years, I sense a personal renewal of both philosophy and vision to ensure that we continue to reflect on our practices and to work collaboratively towards improved teaching and learning against the backdrop of the KPS core values.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to visit High Tech High and look forward to returning soon for some “re” inspiration.

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