January 2, 2021
Written by Flint Hill Admission Team

Inside the Upper School Course Selection Process

Want to know how Upper School students choose their courses each year? We provide an insider's look at the process.

Debbie Ayers, Assistant Director of the Upper School and Upper School Academic Dean, talks about the four components of course selection and progression.

Watch the video or scroll down for the transcript.

TRANSCRIPT: Hello! Welcome to Tuesday Tips. I'll be your host today. My name is Debbie Ayers. I am the Upper School Assistant Director and Academic Dean.

In addition to those roles, I'm the parent of two Flint Hill alums. I teach in the History Department, mentor the independent study projects for the Innovation Department, and I'm the faculty advisor to the Academic Honor Council.

The topic I'd like to share with you today has to do with course selection and course progression in the Upper School.
Course progression has four components. The first is meeting diploma requirements. Students will have an opportunity to sit with advisors, academic deans, teachers to refresh and review the course requirements for a diploma, making sure that the next step or the next course that they choose is one that will meet a diploma requirement, or if they've finished a requirement in a certain subject area, they will know that, and they can move on to take advanced courses or electives in the subject area.

In addition to reminders about diploma-required courses, teacher recommendations are part of the discussion that we have with our students. We want teachers to be able to share with students the skills that they have been working on, where the proficiencies exist, where they need a little more work, and how this translates to the next course they select in a subject area. Teacher recommendations are very valuable.

Skill development: it's important for our students to be able to articulate what skills they're learning. Obviously, the content is going to be the title of the course — they will know that — but within the titled course, what are the prime skills? Is it creative writing? Is it critical writing? Are they working on project-based learning and collaboration with a team approach? Are they focused on certain study skills that are unique to a subject area? Skill development becomes a very critical piece of the conversation as we're thinking about courses for next year.

And then the last component of course progression is the student request. Students may change their areas of interest during their four years of high school, and we want to lean into that and hear what they're thinking and be able to nurture a healthy dialogue between instructors — the ones that they have now and the ones that they might be introduced to going forward into the next school year. Their requests, their thoughts, their wishes and passions about their own academic journey are certainly important to us as well.

Also, electives. Students are so interested in being able to pursue course information as well as projects that they are working on in the context of a course that could be an elective. We have electives in all of our academic departments, a wide array of options. Students will find greater flexibility in their schedules as they become juniors and seniors, to take on elective courses, but certainly in freshman year and sophomore year, students will have an element of choice in the courses that they select.

Our academic departments include Math, Science, History/Social Sciences, English, Modern Language, Classical Language, Innovation and Fine Arts. Plenty to choose from and plenty for our students to have an interest in learning more about.

That is just a snippet of course selection and course progression at the Upper School. I've enjoyed spending Tuesday Tips with you, and I hope you have a great day.


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