From the Desk of of the Head of School - April 20, 2018
As we approach the end of the year, we are getting more and more excited as we close in on identifying the programmatic priorities of our Strategic Plan. You’ll remember that we’ve been focusing on ideas around our learning community, instructional practice, health and wellness, 21st Century learning, and leadership and service. We are very thankful that our Late Start Wednesday time has afforded us the opportunity to dig deep into these critical ideas that will serve the school well into the future. One key realization that has been affirmed many times through these conversations is that time will always be our most precious resource.
Knowing this, I have convened a special task force of administrators and teachers to begin to assemble a framework of principles from which we will reimagine our daily schedule. This Schedule Task Force has been incredibly thoughtful in its approach to how we could use time most effectively and efficiently. A key tactic towards this end is to gather insight into the student experience at Harding Academy.
The Schedule Task Force will embark on a student shadow program this month. (The Task Force was influenced by an article on ethnographic research we read together from Independent School Magazine that I’ve linked HERE, as well as another school’s experience with student shadow days linked HERE.) During these shadow days, a teacher or administrator will follow a child from the time they arrive on campus to the time they depart and then interview that child for their morning and nighttime experience. The purpose of the shadow day is not to observe classes, but to immerse ourselves in the student experience. Ultimately, our goal is to use the insights that emerge from these shadow days to help develop a set of principles that will inform a potential new schedule for the 2019-2020 school year. I will be sure to share with you all what we find, and then solicit feedback from your parent perspective.
The Task Force will also be considering feedback we receive from our faculty and staff, as well as the impending priorities that come out of our School Committee work. Most importantly, in our ongoing pursuit of delivering on our mission to educate and inspire young people to become thoughtful, creative, lifelong learners and self-disciplined, responsible, caring citizens, we are always reflecting on how we balance between challenge and nurture. In this shadow exercise, we seek to develop an even greater sense of empathy for our students so that we are thoughtful about how we deliver on that mission through our use of time.