Professional development opportunities can often take the form of brief courses and events which, while inspirational, can seem removed from the daily realities of teaching and learning in real life schools. This can mean that when teachers return to their home school they struggle to implement the abstract ideas and the opportunity for meaningful change is missed.
Studying educational issues and learning how to be an innovative leader in education can be made more impactful by allowing the participants to get hands on experience and research opportunities in a school that is doing innovative work already.
High Tech High is one of the most well-known school systems worldwide, showcased as an example of how to bring successful project-based learning into schools. But, did you know that High Tech High were also the first high school to open a graduate school of education within a K12 institution?
High Tech High Graduate School was developed to make teachers into leaders who think outside the box and feel free to innovate in schools.
The graduate school is intended to be an opportunity for teachers to improve their creativity, to take risks and unleash change. The graduate school courses are highly practical in nature and recruit experienced teachers to further their practice by working and learning in the school, having real life experiences through project based learning.
Teachers are encouraged to design each learning experience with equity in mind, so that their work addresses historical and systemic oppression that affects disadvantaged student. Progressive pedagogy focuses on deeper learning and gives students options and a voice in their learning experience, as well as an authentic purpose and audience for their learning. Teachers at the Graduate School examine connections between equity and design in their practice and develop effective leadership skills to enable them and their colleagues to shape schools to be innovative and equitable, expanding the High Tech High approach to other schools.
Following the project-based learning approach of the High Tech High K12 charter schools, the Graduate school is dedicated to providing adult learning experiences for teachers that are personalized, authentic, and transformative.
Graduate School students create personal learning plans, pursue a project-based curriculum, explore their own questions through rigorous inquiry, and develop digital portfolios to demonstrate their learning. They are encouraged to explore the intersection of theory and practice as they learn by doing. The students also conduct research while engaging in the daily reality of working in the school and are expected to share their work with audiences within the Graduate School and the wider community.
The Graduate School Education Leadership Academy turns educational teams into change agents. The hybrid learning model involves face-to-face residencies at High Tech High in San Diego, professional partnership, and online learning. Participants design their own personal learning plan and design and deliver a collaborative Leadership Project to address a real need in their home school.