Student Portfolio (Creative/Reflective Blog)
A Creative/Reflection Post is blog-type documentation that students contribute to on a regular basis (weekly or bi-weekly suggested). This fulfills the cycle of learning by creating sharable value. Documentation is a blank slate and allows for words, audio, video, or images; prompts or ideas are available if desired. It can be visible only to the staff, student, and parents, or it can be made public to varying degrees.
The Creative/Reflection Posts serve as our upgrade to the report card. This record becomes a digital portfolio of work that is student-generated. This compendium of interests and accomplishments serves as a feedback loop so students can see what they keep returning to, and recognize patterns in their own learning.
It can serve to provide parents with a sense of security and safety, because colleges and employers will look at an online portfolio. The President of Harvard recently addressed parents on the topic of how to get their children into Ivy League schools: “Encourage children to follow their passions as a way to develop an interesting personality.” The portfolio is an innovative way for our students to demonstrate how interesting they are.
Certifications help us keep children safe by ensuring they master a level of skill before moving on to a higher skill level activity. An ALC might have certifications for bike safety with level-ups for higher difficulty rides. In order to go on a certain type of bike ride, the student must achieve certification to that level of bike safety mastery.
Some learning goals require extended persistence, such as learning a language or mastering an instrument. Level-ups are a concept that help children identify and reach incremental objectives along the way to achieving a larger goal. Level-ups provide checkpoints along the way as well as visible feedback of having accomplished past objectives.
The child can be supported in designing a motivating level-up scheme to support their longer-term goals. This process helps make the necessary persistence into a kind of game and foster focus. Level-ups are individualized to the student by the student and awarded as they see fit for the goals they identified.
It is the role of everyone in the community to keep one another safe and make sure that all community members are respected. To this end, we have the “Stop Rule.” Any adult or child can say, “Stop” (or, as it happens in practice, “Stop Rule”) as a kind of “safe word” to anyone invading their experience or space with noise, teasing, or other unwanted interaction. That person is expected to immediately stop their behavior. We find that respecting the Stop Rule prevents a lot of conflicts from escalating; however, it is best used as more of a last resort and not an immediate reaction.
Coaches are non-ALF, non-staff support persons selected by each student for their personal mentorship. This person takes on a life coaching type role, listens and reflects with the child, supports, clarifies goals, helps the child see the longer arc of their learning, and helps provide direction.
Children typically choose a relative or family friend that they are comfortable with and admire. They meet about twice a month for an hour each time, at a time and place that works for the coach and student. The coach fills out a feedback form that goes to the school. It is sometimes mutually beneficial for teens at the school to be coaches for young children.