Conceptual Frameworks as a Starting Point for Teaching

One thing I’ve come to appreciate over the past 3 years while working at the Ontario Ministry of Education as an Education Officer (lol to that job title – no policing ever occurred) are conceptual frameworks. I’ve been fortunate during this time to work with people who are highly skilled at building conceptual frameworks to represent our team’s evolving understanding of big ideas and it’s a skill I will certainly draw upon to anchor my practice as I head back into the classroom.

Knowing I’ll only have 6 months with this group of students come January, I’ve been grappling with fundamentals and running over ideas in my head about how to tie together the disparate subjects I’ll be teaching.

I’ve finally landed on decision-making as the guiding concept. No matter what direction learning tends toward, we will return to the question, “How has what we’ve just done altered how you think about and approach decision-making?” The goal is to help students move to ever deeper appreciation of what it means to make decisions, and to equip them with tools, strategies, and processes to draw upon as they head into a very unpredictable world. Below is V2 of a conceptual framework. The framework will evolve as my practice evolves.

You will notice that the problem-solving toolkit is slightly changed from my previous work. I’ve added Sense Making (see Cognitive Edge) and building Cynefin frameworks as essential skills, and shifted design thinking off to the side as I’m no longer certain where it fits. I’ve added Wardley maps as an interesting possibility as I’m in the early stage of learning about them and not yet sure how they might fit into a middle school student’s problem-solving toolkit, but see potential. As I did prior to leaving the classroom, I’ll be documenting our work but this time with a broader lens and greater diversity of voices.

Featured Image: relief from Paul Day’s The Meeting Place

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