West Coast: Reflections from Abbey

By: Abbey Duane (WUHS Class of 2020)

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The experience of these two schools so far has been incredible for me. Although I think that there are specific important things that these schools are lacking, the overall feel of the school is amazing. When walking into either of these school, you get the feel that the students want to be there. I think a lot of this is based on the fact that a lot of the students learning is based off of things they are interested in. High Tech High was a perfect example of this. It was explained that the students interests are first explored, and then the given standards are applied based off those interests. I believe that this is a key part of why the students are so happy to be in there school, because they work off of their own interests. I think that the interest in their school activities relives stress of the students, as well as the no homework idea. Since the students are so involved during classes, because of their passion for their learning, they in turn do not have homework to do. We were told that they may have a couple assignments here or there but they do not regularly have homework after school. This is an amazing segment of this system that shows how great the vibe of the schools are.

Although there are a few major downsides to this different system. In turn for the amazing feel of the school's student and teacher life these schools are missing a few key things. For example, High Tech High, Middle and Elementary, none of these schools had counseling offices. Students would have to go to advisory teachers, teachers who are not skilled in the counseling department and who have many other things going on revolving around their subject. This was a major downside because of the importance of mental health. High school is a very stressful time, and many students may need help with their health during this time. Depriving them of help will most likely cause future problems for them. Another aspect I thought was a downside was their schedules. For High Tech, students take four classes during a semester, then change one of those classes after one semester. This deprives them of many opportunities telling them things they may be interested in. Although High Tech incorporates interests into their projects, students won’t be able to access many interests because of their schedules. The students take a math, a science, humanities (social studies, English) and a choice block. A similar situation happens at Design 39. Although instead of a choice block, they had “deep dive”. A block where the kids would choose a class being offered and try, and deeply understand the class. I think this also hurts their search for future opportunities.

There are good and not so good things about this system. I believe that if this system was integrated into Woodstock learning it would take a lot of understanding by students and parents. This learning system is incredible but parents and students would have to understand how important it is to gain this in our school. Teaching about the good in bad is really the most effective way to help people form their opinions about this system. At High Tech everyone has chosen to be at that school, and I think keeping everyone on the same page will help create a community of people who are behind good learning and will help enhance students capabilities! Collaborating on the ideas that will change our school is very important and we should help everyone understand exactly what the future for our school looks like!