In preparing for our launch next year, the Burlington City & Lake team has been working tirelessly to account for every variable imaginable as we build our program. A short while back we experienced our first major setback – a realization that the current course offerings at our high school were going to make it difficult, if not impossible, for a full cohort of multi-age students to build schedules for their non BCL semester. In some ways we were designing for the system we needed to exist, not the one that actually exists.
We realized that in an effort to offer a new, flexible pathway to graduation for students, we would be unwittingly and severely limiting their options on the back end. A robust BCL experience shouldn’t preclude a quality semester back at the high school, but that was quite possibly going to be the result. While Burlington High School is actively working toward more semester offerings – focusing on increasing access to a number of flexible pathways, not only BCL – doing that well means that it’s going to take some time. So for next year, there will not be enough semester offerings in enough disciplines to provide quality schedules for all of our students. And that gave us serious pause.
What we ultimately found, however, is that by shifting our own expectations for next year, we can still run the program and enable students to maintain a years worth of quality programming. Without getting too deep into the weeds here¹ we realized that if we spend half-time in the field, students can still sign up for up to three year long classes during their City and Lake Semester, enabling them to maintain a full schedule for the year. While this falls short of our goal for a fully immersive program, it allows us to run our pilot next year. During that time, Burlington High School will continue planning for more semester offerings, ready for the fall of 2018. Through compromise, we feel more than prepared to offer quality programming next year, remain true to our mission, and support students throughout their entire school year, not only during their time with BCL.
The City and Lake Semester is deeply committed to emergence and flexibility in our curriculum, two qualities we are finding invaluable in our planning. Onward!