What are we doing?

I’m working with a group of families in Philadelphia to start an Agile Learning Community.  This blog is a place for me to capture that journey so other people who are interested in something similar can learn about what we did.  My first few posts will be to describe what starting an ALC means.  I’ll start with that the school looks like.

The most visible result will be a school where kids aged 5-18 gather each day, in a community with other kids and a few adult facilitators, to choose what they want to do, do what they want to do, reflect on what they did, and share some of their learning with each other.

Breaking that down with as little jargon as possible:

Students and Facilitators are in a community together.  Everyone knows everyone else.  The community makes a number of agreements with each other to create a space where everyone feels safe to be themselves.  Everyone shares their needs, hopes and interests, and supports each other.

Each day, students and facilitators will gather and state out loud what they are intending to do that day.  Nobody chooses for them, or even recommends what they should do.  How anyone spends their time is up to them, to accomplish the goals they want to accomplish.  (I’ll get more into the why of this in later posts, but for now feel free to check out information from the Alliance for Self-Directed Education.)  There is not a whole lot of structure to the school day, but one of the important structures is a time for setting intentions.

Then, kids and facilitators do what they want to do all day.  Facilitators do have a job of maintaining a safe space, and supporting students, but they also model following their interests, passions and intentions.  Kids do what they choose.  All day, every day.  Sometimes they will do things together.  Sometimes groups will organize around a particular subject or interest or intention.  Sometimes a student will dig into something on their own for days or weeks.  Sometimes a student will just read, or take a nap, or go visit another spot in the city.  Sometimes the students will follow their intentions, sometimes they will just make it up as they go.  The students will do what they want during the day.

Then, at the end of they day, everyone gathers together to reflect on what they did.  They might share how their day went.  They might share what intentions they followed and what intentions they did not do, and why or how.  They might share gratitudes.  At the beginning of the day, we provide space for intention, and at the end we provide space for reflection.

And every once in a while, students share what they have been up to.  They might blog, or podcast.  They might journal, or write a play.  They might draw some pictures, or scrap book.  In some form, they transform something they have learned into something shareable.

That’s it.  That’s the school we are making.  Our journey so far has been deciding that this is the kind of school we want to make, and then bringing together the families and resources to make it happen.  Next post, I’ll go just a little deeper into some of the tools we will use at the school.


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