Teachers continue to meet to implement J-Term for 2017-18 school year
Francis Curran ’19, Jack McClatchy ’17
The faculty is continuing to develop J-Term for the upcoming 2017-18 school year.
According to Head of the Upper School Mr. Ron Algeo, the faculty came together and discussed their ideas for J-Term during on Monday, March 20.
During the morning, the various grade level teams— the ninth, tenth and eleventh, and twelfth grade level teams— presented their progress from the beginning of the year to the other teams.
Head of the Middle School Mr. Patrick Sillup, who will be leading Malvern’s curriculum in grades 6-12 next year, said that a big part of the discussions on the J-Term was finding what the passions of the teachers are.
“If those [passions] can drive a course design, they come across in a way for students that seems really useful and engaging,” he said. “It’s less about telling them what to teach, and more about how they’re interested in connecting with guys over an eight-day cycle that is different from what they normally do.”
Sillup said that the faculty also looked at other schools, locally and nationally, to see how these schools are able to have a J-Term and be accommodating to the demands of an AP curriculum.
“The schedule has reflected the demands of those courses,” Sillup said. “It has to put guys in the position to they can explore the [AP] curriculum and expose themselves to a unique way of learning.”
Algeo said that the work on the J-Term is still fluid at this point. “There’s been some serious progress, and some nice movement going forward, but it’s still right in the middle [of development],” he said.
Algeo said that how teachers presented their work and received feedback is similar to what students do in Social Entrepreneurship, where students pitch possibilities, get feedback, and “pivot” their work to reflect that feedback.
“It’s exciting to be able to do that as adults, as we’re looking at school and how to make it better,” he said.
Sillup said that course offerings for the J-Term are still early in development.
“Those are going to be influenced by the feedback that students provide of their [teacher’s] design,” he said. “I’m not willing to say anything’s really locked in, but there are some really neat ideas as to what to engage with.”
English teacher Mrs. Giordani, who is working on the J-Term as part of the ninth grade level team, said that teachers are trying to get as many course offerings as possible.
“[The courses] would be something that would really be of interest to [students],” she said. “So we’re trying to get as much selection as we can, and some really creative ideas have come up.”
Giordani said some inspiration for course ideas have come from what other schools with J-Terms offer, but she stressed that Malvern wants to make its J-Term unique. “We never want to do what other schools do,” she said. “We want to do our own thing thing because Malvern has its own little stamp on it.”
Giordani said that the courses offered during the J-Term could give an opportunity for students to take a course they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do because of courses they are already taking during the year.
“What if you were able to do something here that you always wanted to do but you couldn’t do because your schedule is so packed?” she said. “It’s not necessarily the case where it’s going to be Mrs. Giordani’s English class, but it’s going to be a true break between the two semesters– a hands-on experience that is going to hit the Augustinian, global, and entrepreneurial aspects to our identity.”
Sillup said as of now there is no plan for a final assessment or project to cap off what students studied during the J-Term, however.
“Right now we just thought about how we put it on a transcript, how do we credential the fact that you invested this time in these courses,” he said. “I think to level up with how we showcase this would be great.”
Although there is still work to be done to get the J-Term ready for next year, Giordani said she is excited for what’s going to happen next year.
“I can just tell you that I am so excited about it,” she said. “If I had the opportunity to take the J-Term something that would be fun, something that would just break up what you are used to, or maybe enhance something that you have been doing, it would be awesome.”