What the Heck is the DSPD?

Margo Williams I sat down with Mr. Greer this week to figure out what he’s been up to this past year, under the impression that he currently possesses the job title of Curriculum Director. That’s not to say that I was sure what it meant to be the Curriculum Director, but it sounded important. It turns out that Mr. Greer has been serving not as Curriculum Director, but as Latin’s Director of Studies and Professional Development for the past year, temporarily leaving his position as History Department Chair. This sounds, to me at least, even more important and impressive. I sat up a little straighter on the couch and asked him what his lengthy title entails (I’m going to call it the DSPD for the rest of this article for the sake of our sanity.) “When Mr. Dunn created this position four years ago, one of the goals was to create continuity throughout the school and to have a point person who has a chance to work with the board and to meet with the parents to help communicate the overall philosophical direction of the school. Also, to make sure that decisions within departments and divisions are in line with that overall philosophical direction.” The first of the several components of Mr. Greer’s job is the creation and advancement of what the school has titled the dashboard. “This means that we selected what systems we’ll use to measure our progress as a school.” Contrary to my initial assumption, the dashboard comprises more than just analyzing our ACT, SAT, and ERB scores.  Aside from standardized test performances, there are three main subjects of analysis included. Analyzing and comparing measures of student engagement to other independent schools is a process they’ve already begun. In the survey that all students took last month, two of the questions were “How often are you bored in school?” and “How often do you engage in conversation with no clear answer?” Both questions give insight to the status of student engagement and students’ growth mindsets. Mr. Greer shared that “we’re also currently working with educational psychologists from University of California Davis to create a brand new measure of growth mindset that will provide more accurate insight than surveys can.” Finally, next year’s DSPD will be working to analyze another school-wide survey that everyone took earlier this year, dividing answers to questions by ethnicity and race to see “if students [of different racial and ethnic backgrounds] feel equally connected, [and] equally at home at Latin.” The results of these surveys and subsequent investigations will help next year’s DSPD figure out our starting point, and then aid us in developing different aspects of Latin from there. Mr. Greer’s job description also includes making classroom observations across the whole school. “The division directors and the chairs are the lead, but I observe across the whole school as well,” he said. Also, “with the division directors, [Mr. Greer has] helped manage our professional development budget and match our faculty to the professional development experiences that we think will help them grow in the areas that they’re most interested.” This means connecting teachers with those conferences they’re always cutting our classes to go to. Shame on them for continuing to learn as adults. Unlike this year however, next year’s DSPD “will also be expected to go to conferences around the country and promote our school and network a little bit more with other schools to share a lot of the great stuff that we’re doing, and at the same time, also bring back some new ideas.” Next year, Mr. Greer will be returning as History Chair in the Upper School. He’ll be teaching a section of U.S. History for the first time in 11 years, two sections of Global Studies, and one section of Econ next year. Make sure to keep an eye out in the hallway to thank him for all of his hard work in this position, and to seize the opportunity to be in his classroom next year! (There will be a new director of studies at the beginning of next year, The Forum will provide a profile of him in the fall) ]]>