PORTRAIT OF THE BEDFORD PUBLIC SCHOOLS GRADUATE:
PHASE ONE OF OUR 2020-2025 STRATEGIC PLAN
What do we as a school community want all of our students to know, understand and be able to do by the time they graduate from high school? What should inform this vision of our graduates, and how should teaching and learning be designed to make this happen?
These are important questions that educators ask on a continuing basis. The answers guide decisions regarding school organization, pedagogy, curricular and extracurricular opportunities, and the allocation of resources. They go to the heart of what all Bedford Public School children experience on a daily basis in their classrooms and extra-curricular activities in all four schools.
But periodically, we need to ask these questions in a more formal and inclusive manner. We need to reflect on whether we are acting on the most informed answers to these questions for today’s graduates. And, we need to consider the needs of children who, having entered kindergarten this year, will graduate in the year 2031.
Since our last strategic planning process concluded in 2012, these decisions have been guided by the following Vision Statement: The Bedford Public Schools develops skillful, reflective, lifelong learners who think critically and creatively and who are informed, responsible, and productive global citizens. The school community provides a safe, respectful, and inclusive environment in which the unique intellectual, social, ethical, and emotional growth of each learner is realized. Accordingly, we have annually developed a set of strategic initiatives aimed at achieving this vision.
This vision derives from the belief that many of today’s societal challenges exist because schooling for too long was not only inequitable, but was also predominantly a passive process of absorbing information. Accordingly, and because tomorrow is, in large measure, already here today, the Bedford Public Schools has focused for years on changing teaching and learning into a student-active process of developing complex thinking capabilities, and on closing achievement gaps. For these reasons, certain student outcomes, for example, the ability to view problems analytically and to solve problems creatively, to comprehend complex texts independently, to communicate effectively, to learn with and from others, to be adept with technology, to be reflective and open minded… presently guide our work and will continue to moving forward.
Yet it is time once again to take a more comprehensive look at what our students will need as they come of age in a world of wondrous opportunities and daunting challenges:
● a technological universe that is expanding exponentially, that holds the promise to solve so many social, economic and environmental problems, of creating new forms of art and music, while also threatening to replace interpersonal communication with digital depersonalization, manual and mental labor with robots and AI, and privacy with an ever growing sharing of our personal information;
● the pressing demands of democratic citizenship enriched by diversity in a demographically changing nation, yet still riven by racial, economic and other disparities;
● a shrinking and increasingly interconnected world capable of creating solutions to environmental crises and world health issues, and able to share advances in biotech, nanotech, DNA editing; yet torn by tribal, religious, development and economic resource divisions, and lacking clear and shared ethical guidelines for scientific advances that will challenge what it means to be human; and
● new ideas as well as continuing debates about teaching and learning and how to best prepare all students for citizenship, college and/or career, and a life of continual learning, meaning and fulfillment.
To develop the Bedford Public Schools’ next five-year strategic plan, we are inviting the community to participate in a comprehensive, deliberative process that will begin by creating a Portrait of the Graduate that will emerge from a collaborative process of research and reflection. The Portrait will describe the core competencies and literacies that all students should have (knowledge, understandings, skills and dispositions) upon graduation. Once completed, the Portrait of the Graduate will guide a backwards planning process to identify the key features of school organization, curriculum, instruction and assessment that will be needed to ensure that all students graduate with these skills, understandings and dispositions.
The Portrait of the Bedford Public Schools Graduate committee will be composed of parents, teachers, administrators, students and community members, and will meet once monthly (full day meetings) between May and November (excluding the summer months as well as October). A draft of the Portrait competencies will be shared with the broader community for feedback and will then be finalized at the November meeting. The Strategic Planning committee will then meet between December and April to complete the second phase.
If you are interested in participating on the Portrait of the Bedford Public Schools Graduate committee, please click on the following link and, by May 1, let us know. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeONXq9NyWmotX3ScBeg8ETQSaRb63-dhKA7NARcR7zacO5sg/viewform?usp=sf_link
Jon Sills, Superintendent
Bedford Public Schools