The Most Revealing Question

The Most Revealing Question

It’s a good day when you can get a specific, meaningful answer to this question. At the dinner table or in the crosswalk at the end of the day, I have asked my students and my own children, “So, what did you learn today?” My experience is that one’s answer to this question is very revealing (and often disappointing).

“Tell me something you learned today.”

“Um, I don’t know.”

“What’s something you learned?”


“Can you think of something specific?”

“I learned some math.”

“What did you learn in math?”


It’s like pulling teeth. Every once in a while, I’ll see a child’s eyes light up, their posture straighten, and their energy come alive as they describe something very specific in vivid detail.

I dare you to try it. Make it a daily habit. Ask anybody and see what responses you get.

Why You Should Harness the Power of Reflection

Learning to Improve

Learning to Improve
by Anthony S. Bryk, Louis Gomez, Alicia Grunow, and Paul LeMahieu

Six principles that represent the foundational elements for improvement science carried out in networked communities:

* Make the work problem-specific and user-centered
* Focus on variation in performance
* See the system that produces the current outcomes
* We cannot improve at scale what we cannot measure
* Use disciplined inquiry to drive improvement
* Accelerate learning through networked communities

Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

Collaborative Team Teaching

Collaborative Team Teaching
Amy Choi and Pam Ambler presented a compelling and highly useful workshop for team teaching pairs on the first day of pre-planning. As the Upper School scales collaborative team teaching up from Humanities 9 to Humanities 10 and several new inter/multi-disciplinary courses this year, the models and tools they provided will be key to our success.

This workshop was the result of a grant that included elements of design thinking.

Collaborative Team Teaching: Challenges and Rewards
Team Teaching: Advantages and Disadvantages
Team Teaching Benefits and Challenges

Project Based Learning Workshop

Project Based Learning WorkshopExternal Experts Jill Akers and Shayna Cooke from the World Leadership School lead the Upper School team in professional learning focused on the inquiry-based, teaching approach known as PBL or project based learning. The Upper School team learns how to lead a class discussion without a teacher “at the front.” Each person must speak at least once before the next prompt/question is posed. Someone at the board maps out the discussion to make sure each person speaks and that no one monopolizes the air-time. The teacher does not make eye contact and does not allow the students to engage him/her, but “snaps” when the text/article is referenced. What does assessment look like, feel like, sound like? What does it look like at the “end”?

Watching a clip from “The Karate Kid.” Mr. Miyagi is the ultimate teacher. His preferred strategy is not lecture, but hands on, real world engagement. Daniel doesn’t even realize he has been learning karate.

Any professional learning workshop is incomplete until Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy makes an appearance.  See Bloom’s question stems.

First Day

Firing up the blog. Though I’m not “new” to Mount Vernon, today was my first “official” day of work as the new Head of Upper School. It was productive on many fronts. Much remains to be done to prepare for new and returning faculty. There are several facilities improvements happening and though the bustle hasn’t fully started yet, there is a buzz of excitement in the atmosphere. Feeling well rested and ready for the opportunities and challenges ahead.