A friend of mine in the public schools recently started teaching freshmen after a decade with mostly juniors and seniors. The difference is striking, and she finds the energy level of these younger teens rather tiring. Talking with her about this, I realized how fortunate we at Sudbury schools are to be in places where people can be themselves, regardless of age.
A few weeks ago there was a trial at school (for a brief overview of how we get to trial see “How We Get to Trial” below).
Most trials at Alpine Valley School have a decent audience, and there are always people who agree strongly with both sides. The aftermath of the trial is probably the most interesting to me: everyone has an opinion or a question to share! There’s usually a flurry of activity directly after the trial, with a large number of people discussing the case, how it went, what they would have done, and, of course, the all-important verdict.
Most of the time, when people find out I work at Alpine Valley School, they immediately ask, “What do you teach?” (This could be the adult equivalent of “What grade are you in?” or “What’s your major?”) Typically, I’ll reply with something like “Whatever I’m asked to teach, if I can.” Then I’ll explain how my job as a staff member blends functions of conventional teachers, administrators, and counselors—not to mention administrative assistants, custodians, marketing directors, and more.
Newcomers to Sudbury schooling, seeing that we don’t have “teachers” and that students choose their own activities, may understandably wonder if teaching ever actually happens here. On one level, sure, teaching happens all the time at Alpine Valley School: people teach themselves and students teach each other in the course of everyday life, learning all sorts of things—sometimes without even realizing they’re learning.
Yet teaching occurs in more conventional forms as well. In fifteen years as a staff member I’ve taught all sorts of math, as well as grammar, writing, piano, Spanish, literature, history, vocabulary, and SAT prep. I’ve written previously about teaching creativity to Sudbury students; today I want to focus on how teaching happens and what it looks like in this environment. Continue reading
As I sat at the Main Room table the other day, I casually listened to and engaged in various conversations going on around me. The discussions were quite diverse—binary numbers, Flappy Bird, stuffed animals, and song lyrics to name just a few.
One student was excitedly converting decimal numbers into binary numbers and talking to anyone around about how to do it. He captured the interest of a friend and as one explained it to the other, they drifted into another room to continue their exercise. When I next saw them, they had a page or two of conversions.
Alpine Valley School is unique among schools for many reasons. Students can spend their time doing what they are interested in as opposed to following a set curriculum. Students interact with everyone in the school community instead of being separated into grades. One difference from conventional schooling I would like to highlight in this post though, is in our conflict resolution system, or as we call it – “J.C.” (short for Judicial Committee). Continue reading
Tuesday April 22nd: The Friends of AVS is organizing a fundraising dinner at Beau Jo’s Pizza in Arvada where they will donate 20% of every check that is accompanied by an event flyer. The AVS Community will be meeting at Beau Jo’s shortly after the close of school at 5:00PM. The address is 7525 West 53rd Street, Arvada CO and their phone number is (303) 420-8376.