A School’s Commitment to Deeper Learning

By Shauna Hobbs, Director of Analytics, Innovation, and Research at Graded, The American School of Sao Paulo.

In 2019, Graded set out to rethink and reimagine what they are doing as an institution.

Realizing that they could not do this on their own, they decided to gather partners and experts from around the world and hold a 3-day conference focused on helping the school envision their future. The “Think Tank,” as it was aptly named, took place at Graded, The American School of Sao Paulo, in 2019 with representatives from Stanford’s d.school, the Asia Society, the Klingenstein Center, Project Lead the Way, Lead Inclusion, The Institute for Social-Emotional Learning, Global Online Academy (GOA), the American International Schools in the Americas (AMISA, formerly AASSA), and the Academy of International School Heads (AISH).

The journey to the Graded Think Tank and subsequently their focus on deeper learning was launched in 2016 when the Board of Directors and the Superintendent’s Leadership Team met to discuss the overarching tenets of a new vision, mission, and identity statement in the strategic plan. The result was a commitment to ensure that all of the school’s divisions operated as one with a focus on individualized and holistic education.

The goal of the Think Tank was implementation. How do you take the plane that is flying at the 50,000-foot level and land it?

The goal of the Think Tank was implementation. How do you take the plane that is flying at the 50,000-foot level and land it? To accomplish this, Graded utilized the expertise of leading thought partners to create a teacher-valued, student-beneficial, efficient, and sustainable teaching and learning experience that makes certain all initiatives are meaningful, interrelated, and authentic. Ultimately, these initiatives lead to fully-prepare and empower our students to reach their potential and positively impact the world.

Prior to the Think Tank, Graded was already increasing the application of neuroscience learning research to enhance their instructional practice. The result of the Think Tank was a confirmation and renewed focus on metacognition, or learning how to learn. For the past two years, Graded has embarked on the science of learning journey starting with hiring four “deeper learning” coaches and two curriculum coordinators. With these new positions, Graded is providing job-embedded, ongoing professional learning to support teachers as they develop their knowledge of cognitive science.

You can learn more about the journey that is ensuing by reading the EXPLO Elevate case study Building Student Metacognitive Skills and Going Deep on Design Thinking.