Published on 26 Sep 2015 | about 2 years ago

Joyful. Rigorous. Personalized.

These three words describe the common vision for excellence for every DPS classroom.

Our vision of a DPS graduate ( was created by more than 600 teachers, students, school leaders and school support staff as part of the creation of our five-year academic strategic plan (

To bring that vision to life, to become the nation's first large urban district where every child truly does succeed, we know we have to create a world-class learning experience in every classroom. And we know that means some important changes in the traditional roles of teacher and student.

Perhaps no one knows this better, or embraces it more eagerly, than the teachers who helped us arrive at our vision of a DPS classroom.

"Teachers now play a critical, evolving role in creating a joyful, rigorous and personalized classroom," said Jeffrey McMahon, who teaches at Sabin World School in Southwest Denver. "They are stepping out of the spotlight and becoming facilitators to our students, or learners, as our learners navigate their way along an educational journey."

So, what do joyful, rigorous and personalized classrooms look like?

In our vision, our DPS classrooms:
- Excite students to explore, think deeply, solve problems, create and have fun.
- Engage students in active discussions, rich debates and deep learning about math, literature, science, social studies, the arts and other compelling areas of study.
- Individualize content and instruction to meet the needs of each learner.
- Celebrate the diversity of our students.
- Ensure every student is known and appreciated for the gifts she/he brings.
- Empower students to own their learning and challenge them to achieve goals they never dreamed possible.
- Ignite a passion for learning.

What does this look like? It's lively, active, engaging, sometimes even loud. It's exciting, because students take responsibility for their own learning and teachers are fully prepared to guide them. Most important, it is fun and helps nurture a love for learning in our students.

"In this classroom," Mr. McMahon said, "the sounds of learners being supported by their peers and teacher are heard while learners have time, space and materials to display creative and thought-provoking solutions to real-world problems in the classroom."

We know this may also be a change for some of you -- our parents, family and community -- and we hope you're as excited as Mr. McMahon and the rest of us about its potential. Throughout this year, I'll be writing about our progress and how you can help: for example, how you can recognize our vision of a DPS classroom in action and how you can support these changes in your school.

To get us started, later this month DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg will host the first Superintendent Parent Forum of the school year on achieving our visions of a DPS classroom and a DPS graduate. Visit to learn more about the forum.

All Superintendent Parent Forum meetings are open to all our parents. We hope to see you there!
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