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This week!

It’s very exciting to set up new students with blogs ūüôā Especially when they jump into writing independently, leaving me 10 minutes to write alongside them!

We had three students visiting this week. They jumped right into offerings and games with other kids, which was great to see. I spent a lot of time working on gathering records, preparing and following up after the assembly meeting, spreading the word about the summer training program Ryan and I are running, and trying to be outside.

I had a really great time in the park on Wednesday with @ryanshollenberger @pigcraft8 @agilesaylor @creeperclaws and one of the visitors. I got to climb trees with kids, which has to be one of my all-time favorite activities. I also got to take two nice walks with @serenagermany and @thewitchqueen908, who discovered a new crepe place.

The assembly meeting on Tuesday went really well. I used to be really uncomfortable about running meetings, but it’s gotten easier as I’ve practiced. It’s been really helpful to have Ryan and Tomis to work/play with.

Also this week, I watched part of Cooked, the Michael Pollen documentary that’s on Netflix right now. I also went to Julius’ parents’ art show. I hadn’t looked carefully at their art before, but I really enjoyed it. The diversity of the works at the show was really exciting; this was the first show in the gallery’s¬†new space, and I’m excited to keep going back to see how the shows change.


Guest Post by Max

On ¬†Monday ¬† the ¬†first ¬† ¬†day ¬† ¬† ¬†in ¬† ¬†ALC ¬†I ¬†feelt ¬† ¬† excited . ¬†I ¬† went ¬†crazzzzzzzzzzzzzzy. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†I had fun tackling Luca and pulling him down. Again and again. I had fun playing on the computer. I played Minecraft, of course. I usually went to creative mode, but on Wednesday James made me in spectator mode and wouldn’t let me go back to creative. And then on Thursday I told Ryan and he helped me go back on creative mode. I read a Pokemon book for the whole week, almost…except today. But I’ll read it after the blog post. I watched Garden Warfare videos on my sister’s phone because I couldn’t here on the computer. I played Animals. I took Japanese class…that was very very fun. And very messy. I wrote Douglas’ name. Six times! Or five. I played Werewolves. I died two times. I insulted Donald Trump big time, by saying…I forgot. I played Animals with Saylor. I protected the beanbag while Saylor and Aiden tried to invade it. I ate my lunch all the time. I got revenge on Luca. I did not make a lightsaber or work on the comic with Sophie, sadly. I’m going to say good-bye.

I had a very good week. I hope you make me join the ALC.

This week!

It feels like I could write separate posts for each thing that happened this week…The days are just packed, as Bill Watterson might say if he could see us.

We returned from Mid-Winter Break for Oliver’s third week, Saylor’s first, and Aiden talking about adding a third day with us. @Bear was back from his travels, with stories. @Tomis was in town, running Parent Interest Nights, having meetings, and generally being the Tomis we love. @rochellehudson has been here all week playing with Makey-Makey pianos, being adored by @pigsfly and @thewitchqueen908 and @serenagermany, and reminding me that putting energy to stay connected to facilitators at other ALCs needs to be a priority of mine (because they’re fantastic and inspiring…of course…).

I continued reading a book [Far From The Tree] that I started over the break, that I’m really excited to blog about. It has me thinking about how I read a lot but don’t read at school (because I can’t listen for kids and read at the same time…). Expect a new series of posts and hashtags, probably sometime over the summer, about awesome books.

This week I’ve also been researching how to cook eggplant, how to run anti-oppression workshops, how to write grants, political happenings in Ukraine and Venezuela, how to convert data from a spreadsheet into a word cloud, the history of sign language…Whew!

@agilesaylor and I had a park trip where we climbed rocks and built a fairy house. @serenagermany and Rochelle and I picked up a Greenmarket Fresh Box. ALC-NYC had its first ever game night, @creeperclaws learned how to super swing herself by watching and copying @loveabby, and I had an awesome conversation today with @timotree and @jacobcb about methods of culture setting and adjusting.

Signing off with a thought that next change-up, I may want to propose a system so kids are set up to support each other blogging a bit more (they already do quite a lot, which I really appreciate!). There’s an early spring in the air…





January 15th…week end…

I sat down to write with all kinds of snippets that I was excited to share, but in reflecting on them to find a theme for the week (an approach to blogging that I’d like to play with transitioning to rather than listing happenings each week) I found a deep feeling of contentment.

Days are full. Projects are abundant.

My heart is full, and opportunities to learn are abundant…if I stay humble and trusting and clear-sighted.

I had intentions to practice piano and Spanish everyday at school, but there were visitors, questions, and emails calling me, so I released that intention (without getting upset with myself or the surprises I gave my time to instead) and just decided to practice at home.

We had two visiting students this week: @chimp and @hlove2362. Visiting weeks are all so different, depending on the community, the kids, and the parents. One common pattern, though, is that parents show up a little anxious about whether their child will engage with the community and make a place for themself in it. Usually, those kids have no trouble jumping in when given the time and space to do so. I’m excited that the kids invited both visitors to join the community; it would be really fun to have them both around.

We also had a bunch of other visitors! From NYC and NC and Philly and Australia and… ūüôā They all integrated themselves pretty seamlessly; I love walking down the hall and seeing¬†really age-mixed groups clustered around different conversations, games, and projects. Especially when they’ve just met each other and some are @thewitchqueen908 and @serenagermany who frequently talk about being unsure how to meet new people. It was especially fun to see @liam’s gathering of spies in the Library!

Big happenings this week included a field trip to The Uncommons and a Culture Committee meeting.

We went to The Uncommons on Wednesday. In the morning, I got a couple of texts asking if we were still going even though it was 22 degrees out. I responded that we were and headed to school wondering how many kids would bail on the trip, intimidated by the thought of walking from the subway to the cafe in such temperatures. Fantastically, we ended up going as a big group! Thanks @serenagermany @thewitchqueen908 @pigsfly @xxxxpgainzxxx @agilealfie @douglasawesome @chimp and @abram! Even more surprisingly, everyone wanted to go play in the playground at Washington Square after we finished our games!

I also really enjoyed the subway rides both to and from The Uncommons. On the way there, a conversation about writing intros for the Peter Gray event flyers turned into a conversation about how they would introduce @Tomis. Which turned into planning to collaboratively write a book. @xxxxpgainzxxx @douglasawesome and¬†@agilealfie had all kinds of ideas for titles. With @thewitchqueen908 @pigsfly and @serenagermany they talked about each writing a chapter about their experience of ALC. They also decided we should have a chapter introducing the school and probably two chapters for @tomis. They debated the ideal lengths of their chapters–a paragraph each? a page each? ten pages each?–and didn’t balk when I proposed they start drafts for review in two weeks. Hearing how excited they were, and knowing that books by kids about alternative schools are both rare and fascinating, I proposed that we aim to invite Peter Gray for another event a year from the upcoming one (Jan 28th) and have that also be our book release party. They weren’t sure it was possible, but I committed to get the book published if they actually write pieces of it. I’m going to bring it up when we get back to school next week. I really hope they’re serious about this idea.

Culture Committee I won’t go into too much detail about. But I want to say that I love being part of those meetings. The kids walk into the quiet room, shut the door, and then focus completely on listening deeply and responding with the aim of supporting the growth of those involved. They consistently do a remarkable job.


The last happening that I’ll comment on is the first meeting of Finance Club. We’ve been talking about it for weeks and I made us a nice whiteboard modeled similarly to the one ALC Mosaic uses and the appointed time came and…*crickets*

We did gather a small crowd, belatedly. I had expected the meeting to start with big goals and dreams and wishes, but instead we got right into the juicy stuff. We’re starting with $50/month. I shared with the kids that Mosaic has increased their monthly FC budget to $250/month, and they immediately asked why they had such a small amount…as someone knocked over the projector. So we had a conversation about how breaking/wasting resources means they need replacing more frequently. Part of the intention for budget club is to foster a sense of ownership and responsibility for shared resources at school (while teaching money management and giving the kids a say in customizing the space); if we want more money to play with each month, we need to stop breaking computer parts and ruining paintbrushes.

The meeting only lasted about half an hour. The kids asked a bunch of questions about the current financial situation of the school (which I answered as honestly as I could), decided promptly that they were going to save this month’s $50, brainstormed which kinds of things we should save for (gym time and gym-type materials, to channel raucous energy into), and adjourned. I wondered if anything had really¬†happened during the meeting and how many months it would take to see the effects of this FC experiment.

Then the next day, I walked in to hear some FC members reminding other kids to be careful with our cables and computers. They requested that everyone conserve post-its and put the caps back on the sharpies. I smiled and laughed to myself…reminded again that the kids see and hear everything, even when it seems like they may not.

Last (in school) post of the Year

Each school year–each day, really–brings expected joys and challenges.

This year started with lots of challenges. Mostly growing pains in the sense that we started the year with a 4:3 ratio of returning to new kids. Even if all the established ones were culture keepers and all the new ones showed up with culturally neutral habits, it would have been work to acculturate that many people at once. But since we’re all complex humans, not all of our established crew set great examples and some of the new kids showed up struggling to keep agreements and using some tough language. While I felt like I was barely keeping up with the back end running-of-the-school stuff I’d taken on and was so super grateful that Ryan is such an aware, dependable, and stable partner.

I reflect that it felt like we might have bitten off more than we could chew. For a solid two months, I wondered and breathed and trusted. And drank a lot of coffee.

And it’s starting to feel like we may have made it through the toughest part of the year. Are there still challenges with some of the newer kids keeping agreements, people using mindful language, and all of us navigating the landscape of different communication styles and emotions we are and are in each day? Yes.

But there’s also been tremendous growth. I’m seeing leadership from people who were very neutral last year. Leaders learning how to boundary set, not take things personally, and release the need to try transforming/controlling others. More independent travelers. More communicative and responsible off-site learners.

Most people are keeping agreements now. The language that I’d like to see softened isn’t offensive, just harsher than I’d like. And 18 humans social-emotional self-regulation in a shared space? That’s a perpetual dance, and one I’m grateful to be part of.


Hip Hop Nutcracker

Two all-day field trips in a row! What an awesome week!

Yesterday, I spent the day roaming Central Park with @agilealfie @pigsfly @serenagermany and @xxxxpgainzxxx, in search of rocks to climb and some tasty Two Boots pizza.

Today, our trip involved less fields, more rain, and much more theater. We went to my neighborhood–to Washington Heights–to see the Hip Hop Nutcracker. I went with Alfie, Hannah, Eli, and @douglasawesome to United Palace…a huge building that I’ve walked by but never been inside before. We had some bus hiccups on the way there, and we ended up ditching the bus with 10 blocks and 5 minutes to showtime. We power-walked, then did a lap around the building because there was construction blocking the courtyard I’d been planning to cross. Fortunately, we didn’t miss any of the show (so so grateful they didn’t start without us!).

I mentioned that this was my first time inside that building. It was dizzying!

We had second row seats all the way on the right side, where the DJ table was. I’ve seen The Nutcracker before (and the kids mentioned that they had, too), and it’s honestly not my favorite fairytale. But when we walked in to a DJ and an electric violin, I became really excited to see what this adaptation would look and sound like.

It was really amazing. The kids were each either riveted or constantly turning to give me the “did you see that?!?” look. This Nutcracker featured more headstands, romance, and time travel than the ballet versions I’ve seen before, but it was close enough to the original that Alfie recognized certain scenes, and the story was enjoyable (I often end up feeling like the story of the original Nutcracker just barely works as a story…it feels to me as if it were contrived to be a vehicle for threading light narrative through the scenes of a dance showcase…though I could be totally wrong about that).

I would definitely recommend checking out the show.

And the adventure didn’t end there! After the show, we took the train down to 116 and Broadway. Walked through a farmers’ market. Discovered spinning chairs at Book Culture. Wondered at the sculpture outside Saint John the Divine. Then Douglas and Hannah headed home while Alfie, Eli, and I walked through the rain across the top of Central Park.

I’m so tired and so excited to have a cup of tea ūüôā What an amazing day.



Psychology Meet-Up 11/17

At the beginning of the school year, @cammysherbert and @failspy started up an inter-ALC offering: weekly psychology meet-ups, using Crash Course videos from YouTube. We meet every Tuesday, discuss a video we’ve independently watched, watch a second video, and have a second discussion session.

In recent weeks, we started discussing theories about our minds and selves. The episodes about Mind were interesting: we discussed cognitive development, how people learn, attachment, motivation, morality, and more. We had lots of conversations about how different theories made more or less sense as tools to understand our lives, as well as ways they do or don’t support what we do at ALC.

We started exploring our Selves with discussions about consciousness, Freud and Jung and Roraschach, where we see the impact of nature and nurture in our lives. We ended last week discussing whether Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development resonate with us, and we appropriately (considering Erikson’s emphasis on the importance of identity formation for adolescents…) spent this week talking about our personalities.


I watched the video with @douglasawesome @thewitchqueen908 @serenagermany and @xxxxpgainzxxx. Of course, even while discussing how none of the personality measurement schemas struck us as complete or perfect, they were most interested in figuring out who the tests would say they are. So we started to play:

We looked at the Meyers-Briggs test through a chart and this website where we played with the test.

Eli and Askani were saying how they love to take tests and joked about wanting to take the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory exam when the video mentioned it as the most comprehensive…joked until we learned that it was 500+ questions, that is.

We talked a little about Buzzfeed quizzes, why we want to develop our internal locui of control (as mentioned in the video) but also of identity…how we know that our identities are based more on what we decide than on what others say we are, but can still take quizzes for fun. And then we got into playing with other tools and schema.

For example, we explored the idea of Love Languages:

We explored the concept of gender expression:

And we ended brainstorming ways that these tools–developed for helping us measure and articulate the characteristics of our Selves–can alternatively be super useful when trying to improve communication or figure out how to best work/play with others. We’ll see if that’s where the Crash Course videos choose to direct our attention next ūüôā

Guest Post: Aiden

I remember that I played Werewolves. I did cooking…made potatoes. I also was just sitting around a little watching people eat the potatoes. I had a little rest. And I watched people doing stuff besides eat the potatoes.

I remember I was watching the second Werewolves game, so I knew who the werewolves were at the end. And I met the cooking teacher @nhoopee finally. And I always wanted to meet the cooking teacher. And I realized that they cook downstairs…I thought they cooked up here. And I was really excited to go to the cooking class. And I remember that it was really fun to meet the new teacher…the cooking class teacher.

I liked wrestling. I also liked watching @agilepanda do a video game. I also liked watching the people in the cooking class make the things. I also remember that I did two things: I cut up the broccoli and I cut up a little of the cheese. And I cut up the chives, too. And I was the first one to see the potatoes. I put everything on my potato, except for a few things. I really liked my potato. I named him Potato Man. I like his name. And that’s all.

I made two Barbie cakes on Monday. One of them was yellow and the other one was orange. Mine was the only yellow one. And that was mine. I really liked the whole week. I did a sword competition. I made a spear, that @ryanshollenberger helped me with. We made it by using a long piece and making a point at the end. I like @ryanshollenberger’s fluffy beard. I like that we made my spear for the sword competition. I made a sword. It was about five inches long. I like that we built it. At the sword competition, I colored it. I made it look old. And I put some red stuff–that kindof looked like blood–on the spikes. Because that’s where I stab the people and that’s the blood. It had four spikes. The spikes could shoot. The sword could cloak. I liked playing Werewolves. I made a sword in a whole two days. I did not use any help. I colored it mostly green. Me and @loveabby chased @creeperclaws about a week ago. I liked that day.

I like making my clay thing. I made a cup. It took three days to dry. I like it. It’s totally round. I made it for my dad’s birthday. I also like the toppings that I put on my potato. I put this in my blog a little earlier…I like my potato. I also gave it a nickname: the potato soup man. Since he likes to eat soup. He’s my pal. And my potato also got a normal name. My potato also has a middle name: it’s potato yummy man. He laughs a lot. He doesn’t do a lot. I really like him. He does only a few things. Like jumping around. And doing some jigs. Dancing around. And doing things that people don’t usually do. Like drinking water. And blowing it out. Like an elephant would do with his big spout. He likes riding on animals. His favorite is a cat. My favorite animal is also a cat. I have one.

Its name is Boots. He’s really handsome. He breed’s a Devon Rex. He can do a lot of things. Like opening the door when the doorknob’s shut. He can also turn on the sink. He begs to go outside. He knows how to beg for food. He kisses a lot. He knows how to speak. We taught him human language. I like playing with him. He’s adorable (Abby: @kingthanos) I like playing with him. He does a lot. He’s really funny. He makes people laugh. I call him a home-y kitty. His name is Boots. I’m not sure if I repeated that. I like his colors. He’s black. And beige. He’s got big eyes. They’re blue. He’s a nice kitty. He knows what to do. He meows and makes his eyes big when he’s mad. He licks people; that’s how he kisses them. It was difficult to find him. My dad was going to name him Hudson because we live right next to the Hudson River. But when I was two, I screamed out “Boots!” because I just saw some black feet that looked like boots. And that’s why we named him Boots. And that’s his name still today. In cat years, I don’t know how old he is. But in normal years he would be four. He’s full grown. He’s big for his age. But to people he looks cute. He likes jumping around. I like chasing him. I’m happy that I have him. I would be sad if I did not have a kitty. Especially if I did not have a Devon Rex. It was difficult to find him. He came from a pet breeder. We got him a long time ago. He was shipped by a plane (in these days they’re not allowed to be shipped by planes). And I want to continue the blog next week.

[or now…because we have 15 more minutes]

So. I liked making the potato. I realized that the cooking teacher that works there (@nhoopee) I did not know. She was nicer than I thought.

Now I’m going to a different subject. My favorite movie is Star Wars. I watched a lot. I like other movies. But not as much. My second favorite is Planes Movie 2. I also like the first one, too. The first one I like a little worse because of Whip Slinger and adventures that they have with Dusty the crop hopper who became a racer in the Wings Around the Globe rally. Planes is a fun movie. I like it a lot. And that’s all for today.

I like making my blog. I like @creeperclaws. I like this school. The Agile school.

The Week! 11/9-11/13

We had such a full and busy week!

We’ve been having busy weeks in general. Mondays have Set-the-Week, Spawn, Acro, Maths, Drawing (or this week…cake decorating!), and usually a Werewolves game. If you wanted to participate in scheduled activities all day, you easily could.

I haven’t been. I’ve been spending much of my Mondays doing admin/email things…getting things set up and organized so they’re off my mind the rest of the week. That usually takes the morning–with a few breaks to do laps around the space and take pictures–and then I get to spend the afternoon hanging out and chatting with kids.

Tuesday we had lots of sword making this week. And music. In Psychology, we talked about child development last week and then theories for understanding consciousness this week. I love the Psychology offering and am so grateful that @cammysherbert and @failspy are running it. We’ve passed video 20 (CrashCourse), which feels really good. This week, I had a great conversation with Javair about what it would look like to take the theories and ideas from the videos this week and find ways to practice/apply them in trying to interact with other humans in ways that support them (and take care of us).

Wednesday we had our second field trip in a row to The Uncommons. Well…kindof to The Uncommons. We started at the Union Square Farmer’s Market. Then we walked to M2M (a Korean market), Sunrise Market (Japanese supermarket), Washington Square Park, The Uncommons, and back to Union Square to play at the playground there before returning to school. I’m grateful to @serenagermany @pigsfly @thewitchqueen908 and @failspy for coming (and to @ryanshollenberger for holding down the fort so we could go)! I love watching young people learn to navigate the city and become more confident travelers.

Thursday–yesterday–I’m not really sure what happened at school. It seemed like lots of woodworking and wrestling and programming. I was buried in spreadsheets and paperwork…Which I noticed feels much better when I’m in a room with big windows and people I love doing productive things around me.

Today I hosted a visitor, hung out with a different visitor, did some acro, and am blogging early (while most everyone else in engrossed in a Werewolves game). I’ve noticed that it’s difficult for me to make time to blog these days; during school blog time I’m supporting younger kids, after school I’m in meetings or catching up on emails/paperwork/admin things, and on weekends I’m catching up on housework and trying to maintain my non-ALC relationships. Excuses excuses…The point is that I already failed my intention to draw every day in November and I’ve been failing on blogging. BUT! I’m committing to blog early on Fridays, to make sure I’m blogging. And I have been reading kids’ blogs, but I want to be commenting more. Putting that in awareness for now…