Sometimes I have the feeling we are living in a new era of exploration. Nonetheless, the geographies we explore in this search have deep connections with the roots we grow in the places that make us feel that we belong, with the bonds we build with the people with whom and from whom we learn, and from the promise that is made with those with whom we collaborate in an attempt to improve an aspect of our present. In this post I want to feel like Ibn Battuta, and explore a very specific latitude of learning: the kind of learning that were we find the treasures.
What could educators possibly want to find as he explored the geography of their school?
What could qualify as treasures?
I want to claim that the ‘treasures’ educators want to find is a collection of experiences that serve as evidence to prove that all members of the community are making sure the school’s Mission Statement is brought to life.
As I stated in one of my blog posts about advisory: A school’s Mission Statement is a declaration of the principles that exist in the school’s learning culture, and should serve as a guide to inform the community about the skills, attitudes, and values the institution is equipped to instill in each learner. Thus, teachers should be used to planning following these precepts, and they’d better make sure they do for the many affiliations the school has will eventually demand to see how the school does it.
In the IB world, it is a common practice to invite students to embrace and demonstrate attributes of the IB Learner Profile by carrying out certain tasks and showcasing some specific dispositions. However, very rarely have I witnessed how teachers and administrators engage students in dialogue about what the school’s Mission Statement expects them to be like; and about whether they know what character they will have to show in order to demonstrate the necessary attitudes to fulfill the school’s Mission Statement.
I started playing around with this idea in October 2016. So I decided to use the secondary assemblies as a venue not only to expose students to the core values of my current school’s Mission Statement, but also to allow them to see how each value was exemplified through cases I presented. Thus, I would start these assemblies by informing students what core values of the Mission Statement would be addressed.
As the year approached its culmination, I thought it’d be a good idea to ask students to join my exploration journey and see whether they could find treasures in their own learning experiences. Therefore, in an assembly, I asked students to collaborate with their grade peers in identifying which of activities they did this academic year represented the core values of the school’s Mission Statement. After sharing with everyone, they were just informed that they had the last month of school to individually look back at their journeys in school (including curricular and extra curricular work), as well as those engagements they are part of after school, and identify an experience for each of the values of the school’s Mission Statement.
Below, dear reader, you will find three testaments that have allowed me to see that an appropriate collection of learning scenarios to bring the school’s mission to fruition was created. However, most importantly, you will be able to read a curated series of choices students made about what mattered to them in this last academic year. Clearly, we are using the school’s Mission Statement as filters, but the amount of personal insights that is now hosted in the collection of journeys students shared provide us with the opportunity to design future learning scenarios in which we capitalize on students’ strengths, and move away from designing learning scenarios that lead us to think of deficit.