Thanks Ray and Jessica for posting about SWW so quickly! It has really helped me to organize my own impressions of our field trip, as well.
I think our day presented an invaluable experience, and I am grateful that we had a chance to observe “the alternative”. I had both “wow moments” that really impressed me, as well as “ouch moments” that disappointed me. I’d like to list these out and make some parallels with what Jessica and Ray have already posted:
My Wow Moments:
- Dave told us repeatedly during “Personal Needs” time that kids need to be treated like adults. I cannot agree more, and I commend him for finding his own personal means to achieve that best.
- Also during Personal Needs time, the social studies teacher told us of the football game that his kids attended together. Dave affirmed this kind of outside activity as the building of a classroom family. I love this concept and only regret that, as a teen student years ago, I never built this family network with my own teachers.
- Dan told us that portfolios and projects are assessed by community figures as well as teaching staff. How practical is this in bridging theory with practice!? SWW students should never have to ask with disgust, “When am I ever going to use this stuff in real life?” because they will have many practitioners present to explain all of that!
- There were over ten Mac computers in the Forensics classroom. Wow! That’s impressive.
My Ouch Moments:
- I agree with Jessica and Ray that the teachers’ use of inappropriate language in the classroom made for an uncomfortable observation. While I see the value in a relaxed setting, I also see GREATER value in teaching manners and respect.
- I was disappointed that students’ poor grammar was overlooked by the teacher who said, “Oh well, I’m not an English teacher.” As Dave told us, any teacher who received a BA and an MAT can speak and write well, and we have a duty to pass that along as much as we can, right?
- I felt that the food choices at lunch time were very limited for the students. I would have liked to have seen more vegetables, less junk food, and healthier drink choices. I felt this area was lacking the most in comparison to other “traditional” school systems. However, I appreciated the free wraps they gave us! That was nice.
I do not envision myself ever applying for a position at an alternative school like SWW in Rochester, but I certainly feel that many of their objectives can be worked into my teaching ethic. Namely, I will try to give students as many reading choices as my administrators allow, less multiple choice tests, more time for personal interest projects, and opportunities to gather together socially and have fun outside of class. -Sofia