a typical day in a not-so-typical school

Plastino Scholar Project

7:00 AM: wake-up time at Fiona’s. hop in the shower, make myself a cup of tea, read a bit of the things they carried,  and finally convince myself to get dressed in spite of the morning chill.

8:30 AM: walk out the back door with Fiona, through the garden, and pass through the gate that marks the boundary between Fiona’s property and the school.

8:35 AM: talk to the children as they arrive and snack on a few pieces of pear that are nicely waiting in a bowl thanks to Narlan, the school cook extraordinaire.

8:45 AM (or a bit later–mornings can be slow for everyone): a student or mentor (they call all adults who work at the school ‘mentors’) will ring a gong. all children and adults run to the sunroom where the groups arranges itself into a large circle. warm sunlight filters in as a student begins the morning meeting by saying “welcome to morning meeting. does anyone have anything they would like to say?” the student will then call on other students and adults who patiently raise their hand to get their chance to share. once everyone has spoken the student will close the morning meeting and the ‘triskels’ (upper school students) will leave the little ones in the sunroom and head back to their own classroom.

9:00 AM: i wander over to the upper school classrooms with the triskels and sit in on a ‘preso’ (pronounced: prezzo) where Sarah, the mentor, reviews the concept of converting between 24 hour time and 12 hour time to her group of 7 students. at the end of the lesson Sarah explains the activity that the students will be required to complete by the end of the week.

10:30 AM: eyes stray towards the clock as morning tea approaches and at 10:30 mentors and students alike take a break to enjoy some light snacks. there’s rice cakes, honey, peanut butter, apples, clementines, pear slices, and of course, tea. for a half hour everyone basks in the sunshine, runs about, and fills up on healthy and satisfying snacks.

11:00 AM: the ringing of the gong brings everyone back to the main classrooms. I follow a group of students for their ‘contract time.’ each student receives a contract with a different level of guidance at the beginning of the week. the student is then responsible for completing all of the tasks and assignments that are outlined on the contract by the end of the week. emergent learners have a contract with tasks laid out by the day and time that they should be completed. engaged learners have tasks that are laid out by the day. effective learners receive a contract that only has the tasks that need to completed listed out on the page.

12:30 PM: lunch is a delicious and wonderful organic and vegetarian meal prepared by Narlan, the master cook at KVS. lunch is laid out as a buffet and is comprised of local foods and food from the school garden. mentors and students grab plates and take the food wherever they want to eat. people come and go to grab more food and once satiated, dishes are dropped off to be washed and the playing begins in earnest. kids climb trees, explore the garden, create ‘cubbies’ (a type of mini clubhouse made up of found materials, wrestle each other, talk to the mentors, show off things that they brought to school and then go back for more food.

1:30 PM: back to school! based on the timetable that has been created for each student they might have contract time or a preso with one of the other mentors. for the upper school Marni teaches science and some specialist math and Dan teaches humanities and a technology based class.

2:00 PM: students might have a PLP or a personal learning project. these PLPs are 5 week undertakings in which the students pursue a determined passion area. PLPs can focus on sewing, cooking, or even Minecraft!

2:30 PM: if it’s a wednesday there will be a parliament. parliament is a student-run forum in which issues, concerns, and topics that need to be discussed are brought up. a student facilitator monitors the group dynamics and behavior, reading topics that need to be discussed from a list that the students and mentors have added to throughout the week. the group then discusses the issue or topic until a sufficient solution is chosen. the solution is then put into place by the students, with the help of the mentors if this is needed.

3:30 PM: everyone grabs their bags and shoes (did i mention shoes are optional?) and heads home for the day after grabbing another apple, climbing one last tree, or saying goodbye to the school chickens.

3:40 PM: the mentors meet to discuss the day, reflect on anything important that happened, lay out plans for the following day, or add notes to the online school journal system about specific students or general things that happened throughout the day.

4:15 PM: wander back over to Fiona’s to enjoy the beautiful setting sunlight that filters in through the large windows, curl up with a book and sip on yet another cup of tea.

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