Right now, I'm looking for a team for one school, but we may have more teams as interest builds and more need is identified. The initial inception of the school came all from me (Lexi), and I need other people to give their input and perspectives before we can really get going on the planning. Here is the basic idea of the school:

The school will serve children and adolescents ages 3-17. There are no grade levels, and students of all ages mix freely, as research supports mixed aged groups being ideal learning communities. There are, however, differentiated programs for broad developmental levels (i.e. mentoring for ages 12-17, practical skills support for ages 3-5)

 

There are no required classes and no curriculum set by adults. The classes held at school are requested by students and have an optional commitment, with curriculum driven by and designed by students with the support of an adult (either volunteer experts from the community, parents, or people who work for the school). There are some planned activities, field trips, meetings, and classes that students may choose to commit to ahead of time, but for the most part, the students’ school day is self-directed. 

The role of adults in a student centered self directed school is mainly to support students in their pursuits. Facilitators are adults that have more life experience, knowledge in a particular field, and training on self-directed education of young people. Students may go to facilitators for emotional support and advice, guidance on designing their individual education path, resources and knowledge, and help in situations they don’t feel comfortable handling themselves. Facilitators are role models for the young people they serve by making their adult lives visible, modeling life skills, appropriate adult conduct, and pursuit of life-long learning.

The school aims to strike a balance between freedom to pursue interests and structure that provides stability and scaffolding for finding personal interests. The exact details of that structure need to change constantly in response to feedback and observation of student needs. There are a few broad details that we will build upon that are supported by research in both traditional and self directed environments, including: 

  • Ample opportunities for presentation of evidence of learning. The possibilities are endless, but may include presentations, research and art exhibitions, displays of student work, performances, game or app demos, competitions, installations, etc. 

  • A clearly defined and communicated calendar and schedule. Both the calendar and schedule will have to adjust in response to student and family needs, but it should always be visible, up-to-date, and accessible.

  • An intentionally designed environment. The purpose of creating a school where young people can participate in self-directed learning is to provide an environment that is supplemental to their home that provides exposure to ideas and people they wouldn't otherwise have as a homeschooler/unschooler. Being around many different types of people accomplishes part of this goal, but the physical building and surroundings are powerful in facilitating introductions to new interests.

  • Support for in depth study of academic topics. There are many benefits to learning in a classroom environment with other students. The most important factor for this method to be successful is student autonomy and ownership of the class. In an SDE school, there is no content that students are required to learn, and no mandatory classes. However, students do have the opportunity to design and attend classes based on content they choose to learn. 

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Some of the decisions I need help with

Democratic structure: How do school meetings go? What is the process for organizing student leaders? What happens when someone doesn't follow the rules?

Calendar: When is the school open?

Traditional (9-10 months, Aug/Sept-May/Jun)

Full year traditional (12 months, July-June)
Calendar year (Jan-Dec)
Seasonal (Jan-Mar, Apr-Jun, Jul-Sept, Oct-Dec)

Schedule: What does the daily schedule look like? Should there be a common start and end time, a range of times for drop-off and pick-up, or variable times by developmental stages?

Off-campus learning experiences: What is the policy for students leaving campus during the school day? Can parents give permission for them to go alone or with a facilitator? How are planned overnight experiences coordinated?

Tuition: How is tuition determined? Fixed rate, sliding scale based on income, third-party tuition service, etc. How often are tuition rates updated?

Food: How do students get food while at school? Bring from home, Child Nutrition Program, budget for school supplied ingredients for students to cook, etc.

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