The Themes feature in myFolio solves a challenge many school leaders face: How might we connect the daily work of educators to larger schoolwide visions, missions, and standards for teaching and learning? And most importantly, are your institutional goals reflected in your themes?
During our 2023 Summer Leadership Series, Patricia Podorsek, Director of Teaching and Learning at Folio member school The International School Nido de Aguilas (Nido), shared a common language approach to Theme development based on the Center for Educational Leadership at the University of Washington’s framework. This approach was the result of 2 years of deep study to explore the standards that the school was seeking to hold itself to as it moved forward in today’s educational environment. The result was a set of 6 common themes for Nido educators to reference when developing their professional goals:
- Student Engagement
- Curriculum and Pedagogy
- Assessment for Student Learning
- Classroom Environment and Culture
- Professional Collaboration and Communication
Here are a few other considerations when developing Themes in Folio
What could a Theme look like “in action?”
In other words, can you envision real world/classroom examples of this Theme?
Are your Themes clearly defined using a common or middle language for all types of educators?
Be sure to consider whether the language and vocabulary of your Themes would need “Translating.” (Clarity is one of our core values at Folio!)
What sort of “compass points” do your themes represent?
It may be a good idea to take a moment to visualize the graduate of your Theme structure. Are there skills acquired? Are there tangible outcomes and destinations you are seeking? Where will an individual end up when attaining a goal related to a theme?
Here are some “best practices” in developing themes using your school’s mission/vision or standards for quality teaching and learning:
- Keep the language simple and concise- It’s good if your educators are familiar with the language prior to seeing them in myFolio. Your leadership team should be united on using any key terms that will show up.
- Less can be more- In order to avoid “choice paralysis” as educators seek to connect themes to their goals, look to introduce a small number of themes that have been rolled out to the group in advance.
- Frame the themes in a larger group meeting with an opportunity for feedback from your people. Sometimes a “glossary” helps (see the example above) alleviate any confusion.
This prior post highlights some suggestions to attain clarity on your Theme development. While these aren’t the only options, we think this is a good place to start!