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Day 83: Alternatives and Responsibilities

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Day 83/180: A half-day at an alternative school

I got to spend a half-day at the local alternative school. All of the classes I saw had single-digit numbers of kids, so I got to chat with them all a bit. Super nice kids. Many of them have had problems in the past (and some in the present), but everyone who was there was pretty focused on getting work done.

I noticed a few things about this school. There’s very clear expectations of students and student behavior, but there is also a lot of (what might be seen as lax at other schools as) freedom. Everyone was on a first-name basis. There were no bells. Kids can come and go, but will be held accountable for their actions. Standards-based grading is the norm. Instead of two semesters, the school is organized into eight “sessions” per year. Kids are free to meet up and work or chat in the hallways. They can listen to music if it helps them concentrate. They all were in different places in assignments, but they all knew what needed to be done next. Kinda Montessori-ish, actually.

Sometimes I wonder if “normal” schools would be better off this way. I think giving kids more responsibilities, rather than more punitive punishments, is a better way to go.

P.S., if your school district has several schools all named after the same famous person, please clearly detail which school to attend on the sub system. Thanks.

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