Last night we hosted our first Expo Night. Our students did a great job of self-selecting quality work to share with their parents. We’ve been open for a year and a half. I think it’s taken that long to re-engage students with the kind of pride and effort they put into sharing their work with peers, teachers, and parents. The night re-confirmed for me the need for schools like ours that allow themselves to be flexible with “schooling” so students who experience frustration with school don’t feel trampled underfoot by the speed of standards-based instruction mapped to EOC SOL tests. We try to pursue learning alongside our students and remove the “school” obstacles that have become antagonistic parts of their life stories.
It’s hard to articulate fairly my next point. Please remember that I think we need all kinds of schools to meet all kinds of kids’ (and teachers’) needs and wants. We hold ourselves accountable to helping students’ pass EOC tests, and our board holds us accountable for that, too, but we have opportunities to create systems that fit our kids in pursuit of life-long learning habits and academic achievement. I think administrators and teachers at traditional schools try to do this all the time, as well, but face implicit pressure to make kids conform to the schools’ management systems.
I wonder how many questions are waiting to be asked, and how many administrators are ready to say, “Yes.” Can we teach morally and charter ourselves and one another? Can we agree on what moral teaching is?
Here is a sample of our kids’ work. Each also wrote about the work, its process, and how the work represented William Glasser’s idea of quality.