MSAD 49 Partners with Harvard University School of Education

Submitted by Reza Namin, Superintendent of Schools for Maine School Administrative District 49

Under leadership of Superintendent Dr. Reza Namin, Maine School Administrative District 49 has implemented a partnership with the Harvard University School of Education. 47 teachers, staff, and specialists in 8 Professional Learning Communities are taking part in the partnership. The goal of professional learning through WIDE World at the Harvard Graduate School of Education is to transform school systems by developing professional communities of teachers and school leaders with interactive online courses and on-site support programs that enable schools to cultivate the critical learning students need for the 21st century world. Programs are based on Teaching for Understanding, a classroom-tested framework developed through research at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. They are taught on-line which enables a truly global learning environment with educators participating throughout the world. Courses are job-embedded so that learners may integrate research-based strategies for learning and teaching into their own workplace. Teams of learners are supported by both a course instructor who is on the faculty of Harvard University as well as coaches from around the world who help them achieve their goals. WIDE World encourages participants to tailor their learning to their own classrooms, schools, programs, and systems while building local capacity for enhancing learning for all.

Courses for Maine School Administrative District 49

Teaching for Understanding 1: Focus on Student Understanding

TfU is an introduction to the Teaching for Understanding framework. In this course, participants learn to clarify educational goals, link student work to experience, design active learning instructional units, develop effective assessment practices, and reflect on their own teaching practice. As we enter a new century of the unknown, there are critical skills that students must have in order to excel. The Teaching for Understanding course is an opportunity to learn teaching strategies that will actively engage students in the critical-thinking and 21st Century problem-solving skills that are now demanded by society.

Teaching for Understanding: Understanding in Practice

This course builds upon concepts and strategies learned in our introductory courses, giving participants a chance to explore the practical challenges of Teaching for Understanding. Using the unit, participants have previously planned, they will look at ways to refine their practice and implement new strategies to keep students engaged and focused. With fellow educators, a coach, and an instructor, TFU will help you combine disciplinary goals and students’ understanding in the classroom, exchange successful approaches and guide you through the process of continual reflection and adjustment.
TFU will also give you practical strategies for incorporating participants’ educational institutions’ educational goals into their unit.

An Impact on Maine School Administrative District 49

As Maine School Administrative District 49 reaffirms its identity as a learning community, the philosophy of Teaching for Understanding is most appropriate. We acknowledge and build upon our current strengths as a school district, including our curriculum standards, faculty professional learning communities, and attention to individual student needs. It is important to focus now on understanding and the realization that 21st-century learners must not only have knowledge and skills, but also strategies to think deeply about their learning, themselves, and the world. As our school department moves forward, all of our learners – both children and adults- will be challenged in new ways through our curriculum, instruction, and professional development.