Our secondary teachers and students engaged in professional development over four days (October 12-14). Interference from the regular pace and structure of everyday life is disruptive. Sometimes people stress about any interruptions to routines. But have you considered disruption as a powerful force? Pressing the pause button and engaging with new ideas and collaborative action can help us recharge and thrive. Powerful professional development can disrupt previously held beliefs and expand ideas within a community of learners. This disruption of daily life can bring about a cognitive shift and lead people to higher critical and creative thinking levels.
On October eleventh and twelfth, our teachers experienced the powerful force of disruption by working with Steve Sostak and Ivy Yan of Inspire Citizens. The Inspire Citizens led our teachers through visible thinking routines while collectively delving into plausible future scenarios for the planet. What will the world look like in 2050? How will this impact the educational terrain? Teachers working in-community explored these big questions about the future and considered how schools need to change to address our ever-evolving world.
At the end of the first day, teachers realized that disciplinary silos (Mathematics, English, Science, Art, etc.) sometimes need to be disrupted and interdisciplinary units developed to encourage students’ malleability and expansive thinking. Day Two of the professional development, teachers worked together to explore and plan interdisciplinary units taught across subjects. Together, teachers re-imagined the curriculum, from a film unit involving Visual Arts, Chinese and English Language and Literature and Design to a unit about the Mystery of Traits (DNA and genes) through Science, English, and Chinese Language.
Through building the interdisciplinary units, teachers had an opportunity to work in diverse teams and practice agility, adapting to new learning environments. This kind of collaborative work encourages openness and empathy through widening perspectives. Trust is built through participation when teams of teachers work together to solve complex challenges. Expansive, constructivist teaching and learning will impact future student learning.
“The workshop was engaging and provided opportunities for me to work in groups with my colleagues. The need to future-proof our curriculum and students is needed now more than ever, and we all need to collaborate to make changes. I am already seeing the impact these past 2 days have left on our teachers.”——Nat Stone, Design Teacher
“The workshop was engaging and provided opportunities for me to work in groups with my colleagues. The need to future-proof our curriculum and students is needed now more than ever, and we all need to collaborate to make changes. I am already seeing the impact these past 2 days have left on our teachers.” ——Shreya Sethi, Visual Arts Teacher
“I have never really experienced a professional development workshop that has held such meaning to me as an educator and as an artist. I am so eager to join this new future of transformation, intelligent compassion and move us toward a trajectory of true change.”——Scott Ramon, Visual Arts Teacher
Inspire Citizens worked with our Middle and High School Student Councils, following teacher professional development days. The High School student council’s workshop focused on future thinking and agile leadership.The students had opportunities to cooperate and practice their decision-making and leadership skills throughout the workshops. The students took part in role-play, attached to 2050 future scenarios. They were citizens of a Greentocracy (a society with planetary health restrictions on human society) or Post Anthropocene (a community where technology & artificial intelligence compute, conditions, and constructs the world). The role-thinking and future-forecasting activities helped these young leaders to look beyond their present realities and into the future.
“All the students had one thing in common, and that was that we wanted to do anything we could to become better leaders. The learning experience we focused on was “Lead by letting go”, which meant many things to different people, from letting go of our normal lives from the pandemic to letting go of our bias to be better leaders. We learned about four possible futures and considered what we can do as leaders to determine and help make our future the best possible. The most important quote I’ve taken away from the session was “Authentic interest over everything.”——Annisha Salsabila (MYP5)
“The leaders of the future need not only have excellent listening and communicating skills but also the ability to observe the world carefully and make changes”.——Agnes Chen(MYP4)
“Being a leader does not mean that you show the way and manage others. Leaders need to scrutinize and deliberate about how the world will develop. To develop society, forget everything about the past. From the current work, we have to let it go. Lastly, if we read the present, we can see future opportunities.——Amy Kim (DP1)
A culminating activity happened on Wednesday afternoon. All 220 secondary students and teachers took part in a photographic exercise, looking at the beauty of imperfection, known in Japan as “Wabi-Sabi.” They also looked at geometry within nature and the built environment and created a digital human-mosaic with their photographs of one another, taken on phones and I-pads. Students curated the group work at the end of the afternoon, assembling devices into a mobile art gallery. At this point in planetary evolution, we need to pause and recognize the wonders of nature and humanity that surround us.
“But to witness the assembling of over 200 students to make art in an hour changed my perspective and recharged by spiritual battery. I am still synthesizing and attempting to rapidly apply what Steve (Impact Citizen) and Ivy brought to us this past week. Strange to go from what I felt was a vacuum (and an apathetic future) to a cosmic explosion of belonging and hope.” ——Scott Ramon, Visual Arts Teacher
The four days of disruption with Inspire Citizen taught us to let go of conventional thinking and ponder the future, considering our impact on shaping this planet. We walked away with a deeper understanding of the importance of our collective, ecological agency and the power of our community.
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Author: Daun Yorke (Secondary Principal)