Challenging Common Assumptions For more than 75 years most American schools have followed three standard practices that are so culturally embedded as to nearly escaping question: isolate students from the adult world, separate thinking from doing, and segregate students by perceived academic ability, class, race, gender, or language ability. Since 2000, High Tech High K-12 schools have overturned these tenets by:
- Admitting students through a lottery and grouping them heterogeneously
- Engaging students in the adult world of work through fieldwork and internships
- Integrating hands, hearts and minds through rigorous, hands-on projects
The GSE prepares educators to design and to assume leadership in programs with a parallel commitment to equity, rigor, and relevance for all students. Rather than create replicas of High Tech High, educators learning through the GSE are encouraged to use our clinical sites as a context for learning: an opportunity to take risks, reflect on practice and shape their own vision for effective teaching, learning and leadership. Leading with Innovative Practice The GSE emerged from and is fully embedded within, a charter school network of innovative, project-based schools. Like the thirteen High Tech High K-12 schools that serve as a context for adult learning, the GSE is committed to providing learning experiences that are personalized, authentic, and transformative. GSE 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 learn by doing and have ample opportunities to explore the intersection of theory and practice and reflect on their learning. Like medical students in a teaching hospital, GSE students take courses and conduct research while engaging daily in the real world of effective, innovative schools. Designing for Social Justice High Tech High was founded as an equity experiment in social class integration. Working to fulfill the unrealized promise of Brown v. Board of Education, declaring "separate as inherently unequal", the High Tech High K-12 schools were designed to provide access and challenge to all students within an innovative learning environment. From the design of each school to the design of each learning experience, HTH educators bring a critical equity lens to their work to address historical and systemic oppression affecting disadvantaged students. Through progressive pedagogy focused on deeper learning, students have voice and choice in their learning and an authentic purpose and audience for their work. In turn, students in the GSE examine the connections between equity and design in their practice and develop effective leadership skills to support their colleagues in shaping schools that are both innovative and equitable. Strategic Priorities The HTH GSE aspires to be recognized within the country and around the world as a hub of progressive practice related to teaching, learning and leadership, and as a model of thoughtful, integrated, and transformative graduate education that has a direct impact on K-12 schools. This aspiration reflects HTH GSE's special and unique capacity as a graduate school embedded in highly effective and innovative K-12 schools to bridge the worlds of theory and practice, of scholarship and action. To achieve this aspiration, the HTH GSE has outlined the following three strategic priorities:
- Strategic priority number one: The GSE aims to model and promote thoughtful and forward-thinking teaching and leadership both within and beyond its clinical sites.
- Strategic priority number two: The GSE aims to assist teachers, administrators and policymakers in their efforts to transform teaching and learning locally, nationally, and globally.
- Strategic priority number three: The GSE aims to secure the financial sustainability of our institution, and ensure its future.
Scholarship & Innovation The GSE has unique capacity―as a graduate school embedded in highly effective and innovative K-12 schools―to bridge the worlds of theory and practice, of scholarship and action. GSE faculty and students conduct scholarly research, share their work with academic and professional audiences, and support innovative practice in the larger education community. These efforts serve four interconnected functions: Integrating theory and practice GSE research is grounded in the lived experiences of students, educators, schools, and communities. We merge professional practice and craft knowledge with diverse theoretical perspectives to explore and expand each. GSE faculty and students put the theory into practice, and in doing, empower educators to contribute to the growing knowledge base of teaching, learning and leading as both practitioners and theory-builders. Supporting equitable and engaging learning environments The GSE is committed to scholarly work and practice that supports the creation of equitable, engaging learning environments for both young people and adults. The High Tech High K-12 schools are widely recognized for approaches to teaching and learning that emphasize personalization, connect to the world beyond school, and offer access and challenge to all learners. The GSE provides resources and support for educators and policymakers to create such environments, throughout the country and around the world. Serving schools and communities The GSE aims to develop understandings of teaching and learning that are actionable and of value to the communities we serve. In studies of learning environments and communities, we espouse an ethic of mutual vulnerability wherein researchers and participants engage as collaborators in the pursuit of deeper understanding. GSE faculty and students share their evolving understandings with research participants, invite participants to co-construct meaning, and facilitate dialogue that leads to constructive action. Engaging scholars and practitioners As scholars engaged in communities of practice, GSE faculty and students share our work with both professional and academic audiences and seek opportunities for collaboration with educators and scholars from other institutions. Furthermore, the GSE serves as a convener of critical conversations, hosting residencies for educators from around the world and publishing UnBoxed, a peer-reviewed journal of adult learning in schools.
The mission of the GSE is to develop reflective practitioner leaders who work effectively with colleagues and communities to create and sustain innovative, authentic, and rigorous learning environments for all students. This shared vision is articulated in our Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILOs) ~ to Practice Thoughtful Inquiry and Reflection (IR), Design Equitable Learning Environments (D), and Engage in Leadership for School Change (L) ~ as well as the corresponding program learning outcomes for the M.Ed. program. As educators and leaders, graduates will be able to Practice Thoughtful Inquiry & Reflection (IR)
- Reflective Practice (IR1): Reflect on and critically analyze their own practice to guide future action.
- Connection (IR2): Synthesize and connect relevant theory and scholarship to their own practice.
- Scholarly Inquiry (IR3): Design, conduct and share inquiry that addresses essential questions from their practice.
Design Equitable Learning Environments (D)
- Instructional Design (D1): Work with colleagues to design approaches to learning that emphasize personalization, connect to the world beyond school and offer access and challenge to all learners.
- Program Design (D2): Demonstrate an understanding of how the allocation of adult and student resources affects the creation of equitable learning environments in schools.
Engage in Leadership for School Change (L)
- Facilitation (L1): Support and facilitate student and teacher dialogue focused on improving teaching and learning.
- Collaboration (L2): Engage colleagues and students in sustained efforts to create equitable, engaging learning environments.