Pillar One: Ensuring Academic Excellence
Pillar One includes five key strategies for academic excellence explained below. While we have made great progress in these areas already, our investment in our people and programs is ongoing to ensure Langley’s dynamic academic program continues to evolve and grow.
The five strategies of Pillar One include:
Furthering our systematic faculty professional development.
Recent on-campus professional development for faculty has focused on furthering inquiry-based instruction in the classroom and applying this philosophy to unit design. Along with attending national conferences, our faculty continues to benefit from on-campus workshops with visiting experts, including nationally renowned inquiry-based learning expert Diana Laufenberg. With the goal of incorporating more frequent and collaborative professional development opportunities into the school year, we have allocated four dedicated blocks of on-campus professional development into the 2017-2018 calendar. This allows teacher planning periods and division meetings to be extensions of our professional development which then is applied in the classroom on a regular basis.
Adopting a forward-thinking teacher feedback and coaching model.
Langley implemented the Marshall Observation Method in fall 2016 which involves frequent, short visits into a teacher’s classroom to provide timely and meaningful feedback that teachers can immediately incorporate into their lessons. Observers look for specific attributes that support our developmentally calibrated, inquiry-based learning philosophy. As we continue to refine and improve this process, our faculty will discover more and more tangible ways to enhance the art of teaching.
Reviewing curriculum and textbooks.
To ensure that our students and teachers have access to the most relevant content and materials, every core academic discipline at Langley will undergo a review every three to four years. Task forces have already evaluated our math, literacy, and world languages programs, and social studies is under review in 2017. Reviewers examined the programs against best practice and top content standards, and conducted reviews of textbooks along with scope and sequence. They also benchmarked our students against national averages. In the coming year, we will continue our social studies review and begin the evaluation of our science program.
Assessing and adjusting daily schedules.
Since time plays a vital role in academic success, Langley worked with ISM, a leader in independent school management, to review our schedule, after-school activities, and homework load. Our consultants proposed ways to better allocate time for productive learning by creating a more consistent pace to the day. We will roll out this new schedule – which includes a reduced number of transitions, more recess and break time, and consistent lunch times – in fall 2017. Some of the highlights include:
- Increase in instructional minutes in both Lower and Middle School
- Increase in instructional minutes in literacy and math in Lower School
- Intentional rhythm and pace to the school day, including longer break times and consistent lunch hour across days and grades
- 60-minute blocks to allow deeper engagement with content in Middle School
- Seven-day rotating schedule that doesn’t privilege a specific day of the week
- No bell between classes, as research shows that it is not necessary for effective transitions
Refining our teacher hiring model to align with Langley’s Arc of Development.
Guided by our deep respect for early childhood, Langley has refined our hiring process to attract and retain top teachers with particular expertise in the arc and commitment to our mission. To accomplish this, we’ve expanded our scope for teacher recruitment, revised our interview questions to evaluate candidates for a growth mindset, and incorporated more authentic performance-based activities for candidates. Going forward, we will continue to evaluate our hiring processes to ensure we choose teachers who are the best fit for our program.