Competencies & Traits
Our partnership with the Center for Creative Leadership is coming to fruition! Those of us involved with the initiative since its inception have been working with it in one way or another for almost three years. Most faculty members have been involved for one to two years. As we assess the effectiveness of our implementation, we see that our faculty members and students are internalizing aspects of the15 competencies of our Citizen Leader Framework. Our main focus has been on Leading Self; helping our students to develop self-awareness, a growth-mindset, and accountability. Yet no effort is contained to one “bubble” or aspect of the Framework – most efforts cross over to Leading with Others and Changing Your World.
As we share more of our work with you in parent sessions and communications, we welcome your stories and insights. Let us know if your child shares any aspect of our work. Perhaps it is more subtle, as you see your child being self-aware about what he or she needs to do. Maybe it is an awareness of the competencies, such as being visionary or strategic. Advanced LA 8 students, who were charged to share a way to demonstrate these traits, offered such strong insights and ideas that I asked they be shared with me. I plan to meet with some students who had innovative, yet feasible, ideas of how to make our community a stronger and more comfortable place.
Shortly, you will hear from Colleen Ramsden about another initiative in which Middle School is engaging, called the Mission Skills Assessment (MSA). This is collaborative work designed to measure intangible characteristics, many of the traits we have been assessing either through our Middle School Traits Rubric found on report cards or through our work with CCL.
The MSA strives to assess six traits, four of which align with our Citizen Leader Framework and/or Middle School Rubric, and two not directly mentioned in either of those models. MSA measures teamwork; we strive to engage your children in collaboration. MSA measures ethics; we have long lived by an Honor Code. MSA speaks of resilience; we talk about adaptability, while other models measure grit – a common catch word found in today’s educational literature. MSA has a focus on time management; we work with this skill in advisory and through courses, and look forward to analyzing results to help us improve. The other two traits – creativity and curiosity – though not directly addressed in our current frameworks, are certainly part of your children’s learning experiences.
I recently observed an eighth-grade science lab where students were measuring the density of rocks and minerals. The energy and the excitement were contagious as kids experimented, collaborating to find the right-sized beaker and to validate results. One student’s curiosity was peaked – so much so that he worked with the teacher to closely examine the crystalized minerals found in a large rock. His genuine enthusiasm encouraged others to follow suit!
Creativity is evident in our Fine Arts program, of course. But that is not solely where this trait appears. Twenty-first century education requires that we provide opportunities for students to assume ownership and choice in much of what they do. When teachers release this accountability to students, creativity flourishes. Recently, sixth-grade social studies students were placed in the role of becoming teachers as they researched robber barons. Their excitement was palpable as they engaged collaboratively and enthusiastically to explore presentation methods. “How should we share what we learn?” was a common question. This activity fostered the traits identified above – teamwork/collaboration, creativity, and curiosity. Experienced in the process were resiliency/adaptability as students learned to work with each other’s different styles, and ethics and honor as they learned to respect what each brought to the table.
Middle School has a long history of measuring the intangible traits we seek to develop in our children, whether on report cards or project rubrics. As we begin to formulate newly gathered data about teaching and learning, we look forward to revising our Traits Rubric to assure alignment with competencies found in our Citizen Leader Framework and with other traits we feel are important to address.
We encourage you to engage your children in conversation about being a Citizen Leader, and we ask that you share with us. We would love to hear your stories!