Principal Leadership - March 2015 - (Page 60)

breaking ranks in practice Global Education Through IB William Baylis T he town of Oberlin, OH, was founded in 1833 and since its inception has been a diverse and integrated community. Home of Oberlin College, the school district mirrors the socioeconomic and ethnic diversity of the Oberlin community at large, with a student population that is approximately 24 percent African American, 14 percent multiracial, 5 percent Hispanic, and 2 percent Asian. Approximately 48 percent of our students receive free or reducedprice lunch through the state-funded lunch program. By 2005, Oberlin City Schools had been in academic doldrums for several years. At its lowest, the district was ranked in the "Continuous Improvement" category by the Ohio Department of Education; at its best, it was ranked "Effective." Located in the same town as one of the most selective universities in the country, the district was previously heralded for its academics and renowned for its athletics. But Oberlin City Schools had fallen victim to a hodgepodge of programming across the district's four buildings. In 2007 the Oberlin School Board actively sought ways to improve the academics of the district while embracing the diversity and history of the community. The superintendent and board wanted a unifying vision and curriculum. Many models were examined; many visits were made by teachers, parents, and board members to observe successful schools in Michigan, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. After a year of study and reflection, 60 Principal Leadership | March 2015 the decision was made to become a district that would offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program to all of its students, preK-12. In 2009, Oberlin High School became an authorized IBWorld School. IBWorld Schools provide students with a rigorous and demanding interdisciplinary liberal arts education, which upon completion of the designated course of study earns students an internationally recognized diploma. In addition to coursework, students write a 4,000-word extended essay; complete 150 hours of creativity, action, and service activities; and take three to four Higher Level (HL) and two to three Standard Level (SL) comprehensive exams at the end of the program. In 2010, Oberlin was authorized to offer the IB Middle Year Program (MYP), a five-year program for academically able and motivated students ages 11-16 in grades 6-10. The high school portion of the program exists in partnership with Langston Middle School in Oberlin. All students in grades 6-10 are enrolled in the MYP at Langston Middle School and Oberlin High School and are required to take a world language as part of the program. The approach to this part of the curriculum is inquirybased, with teachers utilizing internationalism as it fits each unit of learning. The capstone of the MYP is a personal project for sophomores in which they research and develop an independent research project. The project focuses on personalization and use of the research design cycle. Student success isn't based on the overall success of a project but rather on their reflections on the process. Even if the results are different than expected, students can still experience success by examining what they could have done differently and by reflecting on improvements that could have been made. Best Practices Certain best practices associated with IB allow both teachers and students at Oberlin to be successful in its implementation. Everyone has to have an oar in the water in order to make the program work. As principal, it is important to spread the message that everyone is a stakeholder in student success and to set clear expectations that all subjects are important-otherwise, why offer them? As a result, each teacher is responsible for at least one MYP or Diploma Program (DP) course. All teachers are trained by experienced IB instructors at workshops across the country in curriculum, pedagogy, resources, and networking. Teachers spend time developing the skills necessary to move to an inquiry-based approach instead of the traditional "sit and receive" method of high school instruction, creating units focused around a single overarching global question. Teachers have a common language in regard to assessments and interdisciplinary units. Students are assessed with

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Principal Leadership - March 2015

From the Editor
B ulletin Board
Cases in Point
Healthy Schools, Healthy Students
Military Partnerships: Paving the Way to Success
Designing Futures
Teach to Win
Keep it Simple
Communication: The Unspoken Key to School
Discussion Guide: Communication: The Unspoken Key to School Culture
Coherence and Collaboration: Fundamentals for Common Core Success
Layers of Leaders
Widening the Road
Oregon Students Have PEP!
From Good to Great
Instructional Leader
Breaking Ranks in Practice

Principal Leadership - March 2015

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