Forum and Institute 2019

On March 14-16, as it has been happening every other year, Colegio Bolivar hosted two professional learning events: The Forum (in its thirteenth edition) and the Institute (or seminar, in its third version), both of which had the support of the Association of American Schools of Mexico, Central America, Colombia and the Caribbean or Tri-Association. Dr. Linda Henke, director of the Santa Fe Center for Transformational School Leadership, was the consultant in charge of the two-day seminar that was offered for a total of thirty-five leaders from seven institutions in Colombia and the region, accredited by AdvancED. Issues such as the importance of identifying a compelling purpose, developing a more human and distributive leadership, as well as fostering an ethic of excellence, were addressed in this context. We took advantage of the fact that Dr. Henke was visiting us to have her give a talk to our entire faculty on the importance of promoting a growth mindset in our children and youth.

Dr. Henke was also in charge of the keynote to kick off the Forum, which took place on Friday and Saturday, with the participation of all our teachers and a group of eighty educators who came from the United States, Guatemala, eight different cities in Colombia, and five schools from Cali. The message that Linda shared is directly related to what the school is working on in the line of Deeper Learning and the 21st Century Skills. She left us with resources to continue addressing these topics with our teachers, in future opportunities.

During the Forum there were more than fifty concurrent sessions (more than half led by our teachers) that allowed all attendees to find topics of interest in the field of education, both in English and Spanish. For the first time, there was a session led by 12th grade students from Colegio Bolivar who shared their perspective on what helps them the most in the classroom so that educational experiences are truly meaningful.

The feedback received from the attendees, both formally through surveys, and informally with comments, has been very positive. Teachers value this type of training opportunities that enrich their pedagogical practice. We hope you share our views in that time spent on the so-called "curricular days" really helps maximize learning

New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL)

In the pursuit to operationalize our strategic plan goal to ensure that our curriculum and the pedagogies used are dynamic and student-centered, and in our desire to stay at the forefront of teaching methodologies, we have joined a global educational movement that precisely seeks to generate deeper learnings for students. In this sense, we want to develop in all our pupils the necessary competencies to be successful in a complex world, projected towards an uncertain future. These are the so-called "21st century skills" that in this NPDL context are the six Cs which are fostered through the multiple interactions and activities that take place in the school setting:

Character
Learning to “deep learn”, armed with the essential character traits of grit, tenacity, perseverance, and resilience; and the ability to make learning an integral part of living.

Citizenship
Thinking like global citizens, considering global issues based on a deep understanding of diverse values and worldviews, and with a genuine interest and ability to solve ambiguous and complex real‐world problems that impact human and environmental sustainability.

Collaboration
Work interdependently and synergistically in teams with strong interpersonal and team‐related skills including effective management of team dynamics and challenges, making substantive decisions together, and learning from and contributing to the learning of others.

Communication
Communicating effectively with a variety of styles, modes, and tools (including digital tools), tailored for a range of audiences.

Creativity
Having an ‘entrepreneurial eye’ for economic and social opportunities, asking the right inquiry questions to generate novel ideas, and leadership to pursue those ideas and turn them into action.

Critical Thinking
Critically evaluating information and arguments, seeing patterns and connections, constructing meaningful knowledge, and applying it in the real world.

Although these six dimensions are permanently contemplated in the implementation of our curricula, this year we have decided to focus on Communication as a common thread that helps us coordinate actions in a consistent and sustained manner throughout our school community. In this sense, we will consider communication, taking into account the student's voice, from a perspective of what we have called Academic Dialogue that strengthens learning as a social interaction, but also from the viewpoint of family dialogue in the home.

What’s New in Professional Learning at Colegio Bolivar?

After nineteen teachers graduated with a master’s degree from Western Carolina University last semester, we were ready for a new faculty group to start a similar program with classes in school again, but in Spanish, with a local university. We found the best option for us and an agreement was signed with Icesi University for a cohort of fifteen professionals to begin this journey back in August. It is hard to believe that they are finishing their first semester already! They are all really happy with the experience so far, feeling challenged by excellent professors, sharing views with colleagues in other sections, and establishing connections to improve their day-to-day classroom practices in order to maximize learning for all.

On the other hand, we added this year a new dimension to our PLC, job-embedded, professional learning in school. We have asked teachers to identify that one area of interest related to their practice, which is not covered by school-wide, section, or PLC Team goals, and explore it. We are providing the time, structure, resources, and support to either work with people with similar curiosities (no matter the section or area) or work independently going as deeply as each person wants. The topics chosen (pasted on the wall in the picture) are all very interesting / diverse and there are numerous tales of how this little space has opened windows of opportunity for teachers, making them very excited about their own learning. Since we want to personalize even more the learning for our students, we have to have all teachers experience it themselves first!

Professional Learning Events at Colegio Bolivar

On March 9 and 10, with the support of the Association of Colombian-Caribbean American Schools (ACCAS), Colegio Bolivar hosted an institute for administrators titled “Enhancing Student Learning through Assessment, LEADING THE WAY!” Ms. Bambi Betts, Director of the Principals’ Training Center for International School Leadership, led this inspiring professional learning opportunity for seventeen participants, coming from six different ACCAS schools in Colombia, who enriched their repertoire of strategies to foster best assessment practices in their communities.

On March 10 and 11, Colegio Bolivar also held its 12th Forum on Teaching and Learning for all of its faculty and for more than eighty educators coming from three countries and eight different cities in Colombia. Besides attending Bambi Betts’ keynote and having the possibility to be a part of three different workshops offered by Patricia Reeder from NWEA, teachers had a chance to choose from fifty high-quality presentations put together by their colleagues. The exchange of best practices was phenomenal!

We hope to continue promoting such events in our school for the benefit of our region!

Professional Learning

Since our las update, besides continuing with the Master’s program in Education for eighteen of our teachers through Western Carolina University, we have designed and put into a document Colegio Bolivar’s Comprehensive Professional Learning System which we will be sharing with all interested parties. In addition, we are closing the semester with the report from the different PLC teams which have been working hard, within different structures, in their professional development.

Some grade levels or departments are carrying out action research projects for which they have reviewed relevant and up-to-date literature and they have designed data collection tools, jointly. Others have established plans for formally sharing their knowledge and expertise with colleagues, from which everybody has benefited, and will continue next January with the application stage, verifying the impact that it has on their students’ learning. A third approach has implied choosing a particular text, directly related to their common goal, to work on it during multiple sessions, identifying the applicability in the classroom of discussed topics. Last, there are teams that have received the support from their coaches to strengthen competencies and strategies needed to continue maximizing the curricular implementation.

We are very excited with what we are achieving with this process, having established the PLC at Work framework just a year and a half ago. Obviously, we will be using the feedback, both formal and informal, that teachers are giving us to continue making the necessary adjustments so this project contributes, in the most effective way, to the attainment of the strategic goal stated to guarantee that we always have high quality teachers.

CB Institute 2016

On September 8 and 9, we hosted the CB Institute with the support of the Tri-Association (the Association of American Schools in Central America, Colombia-Caribbean, and Mexico). All of our educational staff participated as well as more than fifty attendees from the United States, Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, and our sister schools in Colombia. This excellent professional learning opportunity was led by the international consultant Lee Ann Jung and the Academic Director at Universidad ICESI, José Hernando Bahamón. Dr. Jung and Dr. Bahamón addressed the topics of inclusion, differentiation, and effective assessment practices in plenary sessions and workshops that validated what we do at Bolivar and gave us more elements to work in these lines, within the context of our culture of continuous improvement. We hope to have more of these events that are in line with Goal 1 in our Strategic Plan which is to maintain high quality teachers.


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