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… 🙂 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.