Monday, January 7, 2013

Class Schedules, or What Happens At HoneyFern Every Day?

This blog on eliminating class schedules makes me chuckle.

The author talks about the discombobulated nature of an hour of PE, and hour of biology, an hour of math and so on. S/he goes on to talk about grade anxiety and the lack of depth that springs from disjointed lessons delivered in hour-long snippets.

My favorite questions:

"What if we removed the passive course-to-course drudgery of the school day? What if there was no schedule? What if students were left with a list of coyly worded benchmarks targeted at creating quality humans, and we just waited to see what they could do? What if teachers were seen as mentors for projects designed to help students meet those benchmarks?"

HoneyFern has already done this (minus the "coyly worded benchmarks." We are pretty upfront about what quality humans are.). When prospective parents ask for a daily schedule, the best I can do is this:

9 a.m: Morning meeting. May last 15 minutes but have been known to go for an hour when kids have stuff to share or we start talking about the Stock Market Game or they just need more time to ooze into the day.

Next: Whatever everyone is working on. This is guided by each student's individual learning plan, a formal document that the student and I create before they start at HoneyFern. Sometimes I need uninterrupted time with each student, in which case I will request that they all start on math at the same time or that they pick something that I do not need to help them with.

Next: Lunch when they are hungry. Play outside. Hangout. Watch news. This takes about an hour.

Next: Whatever everyone is working on.

End of the Day: Clean up. Play outside until parents come, or play chess or whatever until it is time to go.

All day long I float around and answer questions, watch demonstrations, offer resources, coordinate kids working together, ask questions. If I need to supervise something dangerous (powertools, for example) I do that. Some days the kids need absolutely nothing from me, so I sit in the same room with them and just appear available if that should change.

Every day is different. This whole "schedule" is thrown out the window if we have a fieldtrip (planned or spontaneous), and when Quinn cooks for us lunch takes a little longer.

Each day follows the rhythms of the kids and what they need, not a bell or a lesson plan. And this is exactly how it should be.

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