Wow! What a great event Wednesday night. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to share our school design with you, see your excitement and most importantly take time to answer your questions and hear your feedback. Given all the end-of-school-year activities, concerts, sporting events and more, there were many people who told me they were interested but could not attend. Should we do this again? August perhaps?
Info Night download/debrief
If you couldn’t make it to our information night, I will make the presentation slides available next week. After sharing more details from parent and community feedback, the bulk of the conversation was sharing what this high school will include! Our breakout groups chose to deep dive on internships, motivation, and advanced coursework/college credit. I will spend some time over the next few weeks answering more of your questions on those topics, and more, in these pages. Let’s start with…
Many of you have seen the vet video I’ve posted previously. But one question that was raised was, “what about younger students, what kind of internships can they do (legally and capability-wise)?” You also asked about how internship mentors and teacher-advisors stay in contact and how the internships tie into academic learning. This short video answers many of these questions.
Why to How, Part V
New subscribers can read the first four segments, which traced our “why” to “what” to “how”, on our blog. Last week we dove into the first two keys of our “how” – ownership and personalization. Here’s our final installment in this series, wrapping up the last two keys of how we deliver on our vision for each student to gain the knowledge and experience they need to construct a life of meaning and purpose.
The third key is relationships. Our relationships define our culture and are central to our mental health and happiness. By limiting the size of the school to about 200 students, we ensure that everyone knows and is known by everyone else. We organize the school into multi-age (9th/10th and 11th/12th) “crews”, made up of 18 students and one teacher-advisor. By staying with one crew and advisor for two years, deep relationships develop as peers and adult coach and support one another. Students at schools using an advisory model always use the same word to describe their crew – family. And students will have to work at developing and managing these authentic relationships – skills that are critical for their future, both in the working world and more importantly in their interpersonal lives.
The fourth and final key is real-world experience. This is how, within a relationship-based culture of ownership and personal development, kids are truly able to make the leap from childhood to adulthood. By engaging with adult society – through substantial internship programs beginning in 9th grade, through Impact Capstone (our 4-year service project), and through real responsibility in the micro-economy that is the school itself – kids are able to learn and test real skills in real situations. This gives them the all-important feedback they need about what behaviors work out well and which ones not so well; what kinds of activity and environments allow them to be the best version of themselves, and which leave them drained and unfulfilled. And, it gives them a sense of purpose and value, to have shown – to themselves and others – that they can contribute to the world in way that is meaningful and valuable.
This piece on stress and learning shows that you can’t just slap on more open-ended problems in an otherwise traditional environment. When it’s still about grades and other extrinsic markers of performance, there’s a shock factor as students try to figure out how to “be right”. Lots to think about here.
Do you want to learn more about Big Picture schools? Here’s a quick overview from their website.
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