Moving From Pockets to Culture of Engaging, Deep, Challenging Learning

Accepting the challenge to implement the Profile of a Virginia Graduate in an authentic, shared, and transparent way.

Focus Question: How to bring the Profile of a Virginia Graduate, the division’s strategic plan, and Manassas Park City Schools initiatives alive through the creation of a common language framework that is shared with all stakeholders?

Overview: Manassas Park City Schools is a division that embraces innovation and strategic risk taking. They believe that all students will achieve their personal best and strive for excellence when they:

  • provide a high quality, engaging, and challenging instructional program that prepares students for life beyond high school.
  • build and maintain a sense of community through diversity and equality.
  • ensure that students feel safe and respected.
  • optimize the use of technology in classroom curricula.
  • create and maintain programs to address real-world concerns.
  • help develop critical and creative thinking skills through collaboration and communication.

The challenge identified by the Manassas Park City Schools (MPCS) team is to build the skill and capacity among faculty and staff to move from pockets of engaging, deep, challenging learning to a school and community wide culture of engaging, deep, challenging learning.

In the quest to make these initiatives come alive, the Manassas Park City Schools #VALIN cohort identified areas of focus that support these goals through an affinity mapping process. That process revealed the 5Cs, personalized learning, instructional practices, inclusive excellence, and life ready learning. In order to ensure their students become life ready, MPCS is committed to creating curriculum, implementing instructional best practices, and providing resources for developing creativity and flexibility of thought throughout all grades and content areas. Their goal is to support students to become creators, rather than consumers, of learning.

The first step identified and implemented by members of the MPCS cohort was to interview educators and students to gauge current integration of deeper learning and the 5Cs (critical thinking, creative thinking, communication, collaboration, and citizenship). From these interviews, it became clear to the team that there was a need to develop a common language framework and identify the key components of this work to provide a foundation for and support to all stakeholders. Manassas Park City Schools next hosted a common language framework workshop facilitated by ALP coach Beth Rayl. Invitations to the May 3rd workshop were extended to the entire #VaLIN network.During this workshop, a team of stakeholders from across the division came together to identify both organizational features and content needed to support a common language framework that will ultimately be shared with all division stakeholders. As the team identified features of their framework, subgroups were formed that began to build the actual framework. With the understanding that this is a first draft that will be shared with multiple stakeholder groups for reflection and revision, the work teams collaborated around language to support the areas of focus identified during the affinity mapping process.

Next steps and future plans include continuing to develop and revise the framework, identifying additional stakeholders to review and give input on the content (including students, additional staff members, school leaders, parents, and community members), and determine where and how to share the framework in a web based format. As a living document, the Manassas Park City Schools Innovation Framework will be also be updated and revised regularly.

Once the framework is completed and input has been given by a variety of stakeholder groups, an implementation plan will be developed that will be used during collaborative conversations, learning walks, self reflection, and personal/professional growth. A future goal is that additional tools such as shared units, lessons, resources, and video examples will be created and used to enhance conversations about teaching and learning in Manassas Park City Schools.

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