Friends School of Minnesota is a very active professional community, with high expectations. This school year, we selected two areas for comprehensive review: geography and technology education. The geography review is complete and should help us to improve both our educational program and understanding of what geography encompasses.
Gathering Input and Feedback
We constantly seek input and feedback about our program in several ways:
- The comprehensive ISACS constituency survey conducted every 3-4 years solicits input from students, parents, alumni, staff, board, and parents of alumni
- Our ISACS accreditation self study involves every constituency in looking at our practice, identifying what we do well and what we want to better in every program area
- Annual review and reflection of broad program at the staff level
- Annual review of particular program areas each year
Evaluating and Improving Curriculum
Friends School of Minnesota’s professional development committee, along with the Head of School and Assistant Head, identify two program areas each year for review. The general process for a program review involves:
- Documenting what we currently do at Friends School, including instruction, benchmarks, and assessment
- Researching current practice in the field, which often means looking at national standards, state benchmarks, exemplary programs in other schools, university level educational research and publications, and more.
- Summarizing our own perspective on the program through the self study, constituent surveys, and other vehicles
- Reporting back to faculty about what we are doing and areas for improvement
- Creating a plan and tying that plan into practice moving forward
Geography Review Process
Middle School Humanities Teachers Melissa Andersen and Rebecca Slaby reviewed alumni surveys and ISACS constituent surveys. While feedback on both sets of surveys was generally positive, it stood out relative to other program areas at FSMN. We seek excellence across the curriculum! The team then looked at our benchmarks, and compared our scope and sequence with the state benchmarks, National Council for Social Studies benchmarks, and other examples of progressive practice.
They determined that we do a good job with most areas of geography, but could do a better job with physical geography. We have added several new physical geography benchmarks into the kindergarten through 8th grade benchmarks. We also need to do a better job helping students and parents understand the broad nature of geography and just how much of it we do!
Melissa and Rebecca’s report is available to FSMN parents and FSMN community members through our Community Portal of the website (log in required).
We are excited to begin the new work!
– Lili Herbert, Head of School