Category: Reflection

Failure & Growth: Reflections of My Year

WoW!  Looking back on my goals for this year, I have royally failed.  I set my goals before I really knew that my job was going to change for next year and that our Design Center wouldn’t be completed and due to those things, my workload doubled and changed.

Quickly on those goals because I still feel like these are areas I could continue to work on:

  1. Being a better public speaker: Yes. This still needs work.  It’s definitely a big weakness of mine and my anxiety really creeps in when I have to speak to a large group, especially on a stage.  I would like to work on this more and will have at least one opportunity next year at Learning 2 Nanjing to present.  I will try to work on this over the summer and in the Fall before then.
  2. Feedback:  This is something I feel really strongly about.  With my job changing, I won’t be in direct contact with students as much any more, but I have put this on the action plan for the Design Department to work with the teachers for next year.  I think that with good feedback protocols, better “making cultures” emerge and it can change our community in how they think about learning.

Now, on to what I did do this year…

What am I proud of from this year:

  1. The Design Team has again grown, we added two new teaching positions and 4! new assistant positions because Design – whether it’s integration our courses is really taking off at ISB.  I am so happy with the diverse skills of our team and what they have brought to the team – they are an integral part of a lot of curriculum planning across all areas of the school, they manage spaces, and they are all great teachers!  I feel uber confident to step back and I know the design program is in super capable hands!
  2. As far as my integration, I am super pleased with the new projects I helped facilitate this year: Grade 9 EAL + Design project, the Grade 10 Climate Change Unit, the FA7 Entrepreneurship Project and adding a more sustainable option for the Grade 8 Chemical Engineering: Polymer project.
  3. I loved that the Responsible Consumption and Production Expectations sparked out of the Entrepreneurship Project and will be used in a variety of areas around school next year: ISB RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION + PRODUCTION GUIDELINES
  4. I’ve started to develop some leadership skills in my supervisory role.  I have been been more involved in the hiring of assistants this year and I am trying to be the best leader I can in this area.  It is definitely not easy.  I have strengths in organization and working with others, but I definitely need to work more on not avoiding tough conversations and articulating myself in a calm and sensible way.

What I need to work on and may consider for goals next year:

  1. I want to grow as a leader.  I will be completing my Leadership Certificate through Georgia Southern this next year, and I hope to use what I am learning in my new role to practice and hone my skills.  I feel like some sort of leadership role is my next step (in 3-5 years), but I can’t decide whether I want to go deeper into curriculum or become an Asst. Principal/Principal.  There are parts of both of these jobs that I am really interested in.
  2. I have 3 Action plans for next year: Design Department, HS Pathways and Future of the Middle School.  I’m really excited to be doing this work but at times, I’m daunted by the openness of the work.  I’m interested to see what we can accomplish over the next few years.
  3. And… research, research, research:

What are best practices and systems for personalized, authentic learning experiences for our students?

How can we offer different options and more personalized learning for our HS and MS students?

Passion Project Round-Up

It is the end of semester 1 in the high school, which means that another round of Passion Projects are “complete”.  When I inherited this class two years ago, it had a solid framework for the students to use as they followed their passions and blogged about their process.  I made little tweaks along the way and aligned it to our ISB Design Process and standards.  At previous schools, I was the MYP Personal Project coordinator or a mentor and I really loved the idea of the project, but for a lot of students it became a chore and something they groaned about and had to tick off at the end of grade 10.

At ISB, Passion Project is an elective.  It allows for students to follow a passion, delve deeper into a subject or learn something that isn’t offered in other courses at ISB.  The course is open to all high school students, although mostly ninth and tenth grade students take it.  There are even a few students who have applied to take it more than once.

Even though students are following their own passions, it is a challenge for most high school students to stay focused and work independently through the project when they are busy with so many other things.  The three things that I really focus on the most as I coach the students through their Passion Project are:

1. Following the ISB Design Process – especially focusing on feedback and iterations in the “Create and Improve” stage

2. Documenting their process and learning through their blogs and using  media to support their reflections

3. Sharing their work  with a wider audience, both during the course for feedback – asking friends, parents, teachers, experts for advice and encouragement and at the end of the product to share their learning and “final products”.

The hardest thing for me in this course has been providing the right environment for students to work on campus.  There is such a wide variety of projects and all the students need different things.  I often let them work where they need to and check in with them, but that doesn’t always lend itself to productive working sessions at school.  That being said… it is a student-led learning environment and a lot of the students do a lot of work at home because that is their preferred “creation” time.  But this is definitely an area for improvement.

It is a course that I feel is a really important part of our offerings.  Next year, another teacher will take on this course and it will likely change it’s name to align better with our Design Elective Courses.  I hope it continues to grow and we can get more students involved in this course, especially in 11th and 12th grade.

Without further ado, here are a few of the projects from this semester.  Please feel free to give students feedback on them.  Their blogs document their whole process this semester, but their latest posts will be their final reflection.  And, I’m always up for feedback as well: suggestions, recommendations and to see how other people are doing independent passion/personal projects with their students, so please comment and/or share away!

Austin’s Dragon Design Student Pop-Up Shop

June & Melissa’s YouTube Channel – Scenario with their supporting process blogs – June’s Blog & Melissa’s Blog

William’s Music Writing Passion Project Blog

William’s Performance at the Open-Mic Night:

BreAnne’s Piano Skill Development Project

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