Laura Malbogat arrived in Memphis on Sunday to help us kick off our new Curriculum21 initiative. She started by meeting with our admin team on Sunday night to give us her assessment of the considerable preparatory materials which we had provided her, to tell us what it said about where we were as a school, and to brainstorm with us as to what our first few steps ought to be.
On Monday, the project had its official launch with a three hour session in which Laura introduced herself to our faculty, masterfully set their minds at ease by insisting that we'd "go slow" and that each staff member would get individualized attention aimed at nurturing their growth as a 21st century educator at their own rate and from wherever it was they were starting. She then reinforced the case for 21st century learning, which we have been discussing as a faculty now for over a year, through showing and discussing Ken Robinson's animated TED talk entitled "Changing Education Paradigms." Lastly, she segued into a an activity focused on the creation of Essential Questions, which she told the faculty would be our entry point into the process of creating 21st century curricula.
Later in the day she spent some time meeting with our Early Childhood faculty and with our Lower School faculty with whom she further developed the concept of Essential Questions and challenged them to apply it to one unit plan from their own classes. Today, she spent the entire day meeting one-on-one with those Lower School faculty members to talk about the lesson they had begun to upgrade yesterday, focus on areas that were challenging for them, and leave them "an assignment" to work on in anticipation of her next extended site visit in late October.
These next few days she'll shift her focus to the Upper School faculty, both General Studies and Judaic Studies, while also taking some time to observe some of our Lower School faculty in action. We'll then take stock of what we've accomplished in our initial stage and create a plan for maintaining the momentum of faculty and administrator growth, risk-taking, and exploration until she comes to work with us again immediately after the chagim.