PassageWorks collaborates with teachers and school leaders to develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that create safe, meaningful, and engaged learning communities that respect and honor the diverse views and experiences of students, families, and educators. This relationship-based approach to teaching and learning includes a balance of warmth, structure, and high expectations that fosters student engagement, resilience, and confidence.
PassageWorks’ Whole School Transformative Learning Initiative directly supports and empowers educators, students, and families with a focus on the whole school as the fundamental unit of change. Our whole school approach employs practices and principles that integrate academic learning with Social and Emotional Learning, Mindfulness, Cultural Responsiveness, and Whole Systems Thinking. Whole school interventions include courses, professional learning workshops, publications, coaching, formative and summative assessments, and systems implementation consulting.
The following are key elements of our whole school projects:
So often schools suffer from a kind of “chronic reform fatigue” — a condition resulting from the continual flow of disconnected reforms, programs and change strategies — with little regard for existing workloads and insufficient support for implementation. An integrated approach supports schools to find ways to weave initiatives together and to create common language and understanding of the work across initiatives that link to classroom and school-wide goals.
Our experience is that “those who create — commit.” Throughout each school project, we have found it essential to continually gather the feedback and input of teachers, staff, administration—so that there is a common sense of mission, vision, purpose. When we involve all sectors of our school from the project’s inception, we benefit from the multiplicity of viewpoints and perspectives and are better able to see beyond the blind spots of our particular role.
Our school project design teams involve PWI faculty members, administrators and teachers — so that project design emerges from the collective wisdom of team members. This design team serves as an advisory body throughout the life of the project.
Schools that make lasting change dedicate time to becoming a community of practice that builds personal, professional, and team capacity. This involves “practicing” together—whether this be in a faculty meeting, a professional development day, PLC’s, or in learning cohorts. When teachers practice and learn together in an ongoing way, the initiatives we are introducing are more likely to become an integral part of the way we relate to our colleagues, teach our students, and attend to ourselves. Communities of practice also encourage us to share our learning and experience with one another, so the whole community can grow, develop and align.
Early in the project, teachers are invited to collaborate, co-create, provide input, and to inspire and support their colleagues. Over the course of the project, “Teacher Leaders” emerge and develop the skills to become co-facilitators with PWI faculty and, ultimately, to assume the ongoing professional development responsibilities. This enables PWI to reduce its role to coaching and support, which leads to long-term sustainable school culture change.