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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Guthrie CSD’s Graduate Profile (Part 4)

By Nelson Coulter

The BUSINESS of school is LEARNING!  You may be getting weary of hearing this mantra, but it is worth remembering (and reminding others of) daily.  We often get busy and distracted in schools, doing a gazillion things that are not really focused on LEARNING.  At Guthrie CSD we have made some serious decisions about what that learning should actually look like for our students.  We have attempted to define the learning of our students to be something that goes far beyond knowledge and skills (both of which are voluminously articulated in the state curriculum).  The stakeholders of Guthrie CSD have agreed that perhaps the most powerful learning for our students exists in ways of thinking and ways of behaving.  Thus, our focus has moved toward educating our students in a more holistic and meaningful way.

This is the fourth of a five part series of articles intended to clarify the Guthrie Graduate Profile, which has emerged from community- and school-based conversations that have been ongoing in Guthrie for the last year.  Below are the five pillars (dimensions) of the Guthrie Graduate Profile:

v  Learners/Problem Solvers/Critical Thinkers
v  Effective Communicators
v  Persons of Strong Character
v  Productive and Valuable Team Members
v  Compassionate and Responsible Citizens

The dimension that will be discussed here is that of our students becoming:

Productive and Valuable Team Members
They are/can/have:
      Good leaders
      Self-aware and self-managing
      Work collaboratively with persons of different beliefs, interests, backgrounds, and cultures
      Engaged and accountable
      Authentic and transparent
      Effectively use tools and technology for collaboration

Guthrie CSD stakeholders have a clear understanding that our students (unless they become hermits) will work in teams for the rest of their lives.  Those teams might be families, churches, workplaces, communities, etc., and they will assuredly be populated with others who may look, think, and act differently than themselves.  Thus, at Guthrie CSD we have deemed it immensely important that our students develop a strong degree of emotional and social intelligence.  They must understand themselves and their own beliefs in a profound way.  As well, they must learn to “read” and listen to other people carefully, developing an understanding of the perspectives, thinking, and behavioral motivations of others.  Associated with these deep understandings is the idea of acceptance of and tolerance for diversity – diversity of thought, diversity of interests, diversity of backgrounds, of culture, of beliefs.

Beyond these understandings and bases of interaction, we aspire for our Guthrie CSD students to learn the value and power of being fully engaged in endeavors bigger than themselves.  Embedded in that idea is the belief that to work/live/play effectively with others implies a personal responsibility for being fair, transparent, honest, and authentic in those interactions.  

And finally, we believe at Guthrie that our students can only be responsible and valuable team members if they have well-developed skills in the use of the “tools of the trade,” whatever that trade or collective endeavor may be.  Being able to learn (and unlearn, if necessary) how to use a wide range of communications and job-specific tools will be critical to the success of our students, no matter where they end up working and living.

Guthrie CSD is deliberately educating our students to be successful, happy, and productive in the global marketplace or in any setting in which they choose to live and compete.  Choosing MORE for our students is proving to be a very interesting and energizing endeavor.  However, we have decided that if we want the best for the futures of our students, we must invest our best efforts/thinking in the present. 

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