We believe that natural learning at any age requires a large amount of dedicated time to experience, explore, play, interact and converse. Our programming ensures that this “free time” (as many adults call it) for natural learning is protected. On top of this basic tenant of self-directed education, we build a variety of practices that encourage:
- intentional learning
- social/emotional growth
- social justice awareness
- active engagement in the creation of the school's culture
- development of reflective capacities
Around age 12 students become more deliberate in their learning. Adulthood moves closer to the forefront of their minds. Each week, we meet individually with students who have entered this phase to help them determine and pursue their learning goals. The basic questions that guide us are: How do you envision yourself as an adult? What do you want to be engaged in, at your current age, to prepare for that? What things do you want to explore to see if they are of long term interest to you? We serve as mentors and coaches and help students in these teen years to map out their goals as well as connect with community resources that match their interests. All the while, protecting their basic need to learn through play, interaction and conversation.
Check the week/ Check the Day
Check the Week is a weekly meeting where we schedule potential "offerings" for the week. Offerings can be hosted by students, parents, facilitators and/or community members. The content can range from a parent hosting an activity to teach students to snap, from a community member hosting a drawing class, to a student hosting a field trip. Check the day is where we quickly look at our offerings for each day and if needed, add or edit offerings.
Morning and afternoon meetings
Morning and afternoon meetings are small group meetings that last about 15 minutes each. They are used for students to capture their individual intentions for the day as well as a time to connect in a smaller group format.
Community/Culture meeting can serve three purposes 1) an opportunity to focus on issues that may need more time and attention than Change-Up Meeting is designed for, 2) specific to social justice and what we need to do as a community to take care of each other better through that lens and 3) a time to collectively discuss current events in the wider world and how they connect to our community
The Change-Up Meeting is a time when we discuss issues (we call them" awarenesses") that are arising in the community: Maybe students are tracking mud in the building, maybe they are collectively developing a negative habit of annoying each other, maybe they are leaving their book bags in front of the door. The meeting is a place to bring up items that need to be addressed by the community. Items are brought to the Change-up Meeting weekly by both students and facilitators. The group comes up with a solution to the issue and checks back in weekly to see if the solution needs to be edited, needs to be practiced longer, or if it has naturally become a community habit.
Group Game Time
Group game time happens once per week and is an opportunity to play together as a large group. The intention of group gametime is to build community and develop connections among students who may not naturally default to engaging with each other.
Gratitude circles happen at least once a week and are an opportunity to reflect and express gratitude for the people and experiences from the past week.
Reflections are a scheduled time each Friday for students to individually reflect on their week. They do this either through prompt questions designed by the facilitators or by detailing a learning experience from the week they are particularly excited about. Some students write in paper journals, some students draw, some students type and some students dictate while older students or facilitators transcribe. It just depends on the needs of each student.