As a learning organization, we are always asking, “How do we provide students with the most powerful, lasting learning opportunities? Where do we do this well? Where might we do more?"
UPrep adopted a new strategic plan
in January 2016. Among other objectives, our aim is to enhance an outstanding program with new opportunities for compelling educational experiences. We call this Next Generation Learning.
To inform the design of Next Generation Learning at UPrep, we held focus group discussions, administered community surveys, consulted with national experts, and conducted internal research and design workshops. Along the way, we found that the seeds for UPrep’s future had already been laid. We just needed to create the conditions to help them flourish.
Teachers, students, program specialists, trustees, and parents have collaborated throughout 2016 to design an ambitious vision for UPrep’s future organized around five themes: New Models of Time, Social Emotional Learning, Social Justice and Educational Equity, Interdisciplinary Learning, and U Lab: a Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning.
New Models of Time
How might we allocate time to better match student learning goals? We are actively working to revise our school schedule and calendar to better reflect the ways in which we teach and learn (in a rapidly changing, globalized world). Under consideration: a start time that better matches adolescent sleep cycles, longer class periods that support deeper learning, continued support for a full range of elective courses, and terms that end before vacations.
Social Emotional Learning
Students who possess skills of emotional regulation and interpersonal interaction are best able to fully engage with learning and develop intellectual courage. Our understanding of how to teach social and emotional skills has greatly advanced in recent years. We intend to enhance support for SEL both inside and outside the classroom.
Social Justice and Educational EquityInterdisciplinary Learning
Are learning opportunities equitably available to every student? Are students learning to think critically about the societal implications of their knowledge and identities? A diverse group of UPrep teachers, students, and staff are exploring ways to further engage and develop social justice and educational equity within the academic and social spheres at UPrep.
Why do we organize school into seven subject areas with separate teachers and courses? Deep, discipline-specific knowledge remains a requirement of a strong secondary education. However, understanding today’s complex issues requires engaging multiple disciplines in concert. The Middle School program currently includes three, in-depth interdisciplinary unit projects. The Upper School is currently workshopping models for new electives and a possible interdisciplinary course option for the ninth grade program.
U Lab: a Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning
UPrep students have pursued new directions in independent studies, senior projects, community engagement, and even created a fully student-led course in social entrepreneurship. In response to student interest, our faculty designed new, theme-based options in English and United States History. This team seeks to create new opportunities for student innovation, social ventures, and global leadership.