Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Self-Efficacy, Resiliency, Complexity & Learning

In 2012, the Center for Efficacy and Resiliency began a school improvement project (Your Future Now) at Scriber Lake High School in Edmonds, Washington.

Funded by College Spark Washington, the goal is to create a culture of self-efficacy and resiliency, thereby increasing the number of low income students who graduate from high school and enter college.
Scriber Lake is an alternative school, often described as a “last chance” for most of its students. A few months earlier, narrative writing students at the school had published a book of their personal stories, titled We Are Absolutely Not Okay. Two more books and two plays followed, and the fourth student-authored book is in progress.

Although Your Future Now came to Scriber Lake after the first book was published, it has had an impact on subsequent narrative writing activities, including a curriculum designed around the Common Core Learning Standards. The writing instructor describes the project’s emphasis on resiliency as being “a crucial part of everything we do.”

The Scriber Lake culture has changed significantly since Your Future Now began two years ago. Suspension rates are down, adult/student power struggles are fewer, and students who once “just wanted a diploma” are now talking about college and making plans for the future. Adult-student conversations are also much less confrontational.

An article in the Seattle Times,Education Lab Blog,” features current narrative writing students at Scriber Lake. Although not mentioned specifically, Your Future Now has had a significant impact on how these students view and describe their pasts and futures. It illustrates clearly how a simple event here can become a game changer over there, which in turn affects the culture of an entire organization. A wonderful example of complexity in action.

For further information, contact Cal Crow:; 425-640-1852

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Imagine a High School Where . . .

The mission is to ensure that students acquire knowledge and skills necessary for adulthood. Educators view their job as preparing students to be successful thirty-year olds.

Students are taught from the first day that their reason for being in school is not to take courses, earn credits, pass tests and follow teachers’ directions. It is to identify, develop and maximize their strengths, skills, talents and interests, so they can make their dreams come true. (This school devotes much time and energy to students’ dreams.)

Students can always describe what they are learning (not “doing”), why they are learning it, and how they can use it when they are no longer in school. They can do these things because their teachers, counselors and other adults in the school make them explicit.

Every student has an education/career plan, continually works on and revisits that plan; and curriculum, instruction and guidance programs support these student plans. The school is actually organized around these student plans. The curriculum is viewed as a vehicle to help make this occur, rather than as an end in itself.