Often I start on a new journey filled with a mixture of excitement and anxiety–both emotions at war within me as the departure date nears. As I contemplate the trip that lies ahead excitement wins out! This international learning journey is special because of the opportunity it represents to plant seeds for innovating, creating, and designing new learning models in our schools in northwest Arkansas.
We journey to New Zealand which is a small country by our standards. Yet, their education system has a reputation for leading in innovation. Their efforts started in 1989 with Tomorrow Schools and in 2007 the Kiwis moved to a personalized learning focus complemented by common high expectations for learning and development. They are clear on their vision, their values, and their key competencies for every learner.
In many traditional schools in the United States, students experience an ‘instructional exposure-based’ learning model. Our students are more familiar with providing a response to a test prompt than representing or demonstrating what they have learned in a new and different way. Our national and state data show this model isn’t sufficient to prepare students for learning and life success.
I hope to learn more about how New Zealand achieves high outcomes (top 10-12 in PISA scores)by personalizing access to a rigorous curriculum. Here are some questions I am pondering on the eve of our departure.
- What do competency-based learning and personalization look like in New Zealand schools?
- How has this helped more students achieve better outcomes?
- How are things different/same across schools and communities? Across different cultures and backgrounds of students?
- What are the steps they have taken in their journey as an educational system to support them along the way?
- What can we apply to our work in Arkansas?
Tune in to learn what we learn! We will be blogging to share our experiences and reflections throughout our international learning journey.