Students at BFA Fairfax will share what they know, understand, and are able to do in a series of exhibitions throughout their time in grades 7-12. The exhibitions are built on the belief that:
“Learning and growth are best understood and represented by the learner.”
Essentially this means that the best way to know where a learner stands is to talk to them about their strengths, challenges, interests, and future goals. This is true for all learners, students and adults alike.
A team of teachers met during the summer to develop expectations and a timeline for exhibitions in grades 8 and 10. The team built a website that includes goals, expectations, a calendar and a variety of resources and information for students and families.
The first exhibition will be held at the end of the 8th-grade year. Students will prepare for the exhibition throughout their 7th and 8th-grade year by gathering evidence of their learning related to the transferable skills, reflecting on its importance, and exploring their passions and interests. Time and structure will be provided during students’ daily advisory time. The 8th-grade exhibition will include an audience that includes the student’s family, teachers, and choice of peers. It will be a conversation and presentation that focuses on what the students have learned, areas for growth, and plans for high school. This year’s 7th-grade students will be the first to participate in this process.
High school students will be participating in a similar, but enhanced experience at the end of their 10th-grade year. They will work on this process that, like the 8th-grade exhibition, includes gathering evidence and reflection, but also includes personal and career exploration activities. Students will work to prepare for their exhibition during advisories every Monday and Wednesday. The audience for the 10th-grade exhibition will expand to include community members who will learn about the student’s understanding, progress, areas for growth, and plans for their junior and senior years. This year’s 10th grade (the Class of 2021) will participate in an abridged version of the exhibition this spring. The Class of 2022 will prepare for and experience the full exhibition cycle. In fact, both classes have already started working! We will provide more details about becoming a community member of an exhibition panel as the year goes on.
The last portion of our exhibition plan is to develop a “capstone” experience for our seniors. Last year, a group of teachers began investigating models from other schools to find a model that could be adapted to match our goals and students. We will continue to explore and create a model for the senior year that will build on the exhibitions from grades 8 and 10. Our plan is to implement this capstone experience with the Class of 2021.
We are excited to provide students with the opportunity and structure to share their body of evidence for our Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements throughout their time at BFA Fairfax. We know that we learn so much more about a student’s learning and growth when they participate in a conversation than we will ever learn by looking at a number on a piece of paper.
John Tague is the Principal of BFA Fairfax Middle/High School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him @jtague252