I haven’t blogged about my day-to-day at PLC at all, so I’m glad to have #DITLife as a kick in the pants to do some writing and reflecting.
We’re on a weekly schedule at PLC. Classes happen once a week. Every day of the week is different, but each week has the same rhythm to it. That said, every day is different, because a lot of what happens at PLC doesn’t happen in classes.
Note that we call the teens who attend PLC “members”, rather than students.
8:30 am – Arrive at PLC. Say hi to folks who are already there in the common room. Find a spot on the couch to organize for the day—email, browsing some videos about Thomas Was Alone for my video games class, and putting together some feedback on an essay one of my mentees wrote to apply to Simon’s Rock College. Chit-chat with members and staff. Lay plans with a member to make a giant pompom—more on that later.
9:15 am – Help to greet a potential new member who is visiting for the day–A, an eighth-grader from a local public middle school. She and her mom had come by on Wednesday for an hour or so, for a tour and an initial conversation. (The conversation was exciting, because it was the first time I did one of those initial meetings on my own.) They also attended our Outside the Box event last night. I showed A the day’s schedule of classes, then passed her off to a couple of members who were nearby and went back to my couch and computer.
9:40 am – K arrives to PLC and have a brief mentoring meeting—checking in on how his application to Simon’s Rock is going, chatting about the fun we had ice skating on Monday, and finding out how his week’s been.
10am – Introduction to Programming. Three members, me, and A worked on Scratch projects in a classroom. One member is working on a platforming game with some unusual physics, another is just starting a new game after his successful “Underwatermelon”, and the third searched the web for sound effects for her Dragon Ball Z fighting game. A was new to programming, so I set her up with the tutorial on scratch.mit.edu, and before long she has a couple of sprites dancing around with sound effects. Alongside of checking in on their progress and chit-chatting with them, I started trying to make a Scratch “Pong” game, but then headed in the direction of making a “Pong” musical instrument instead.
11am – Last week we had a wine-and-cheese outreach event for local mental health professionals. It was held at K’s family’s house. As people were arriving and mingling, K had the idea of showing me his pompom making supplies. (Like this.) And then, of course, we made one. :D So this morning K came up to me and said we ought to try making a huge pompom with a hoop-thing we’d make ourselves out of cardboard. And so we dove into that during this hour.
I also shepherded A off to go with a staff members and a couple of members to a construction site nearby. Bob Hillier, a local architect, was going to give them a tour of the site. A had at first thought she’d stay at PLC to see me work with another member for our calculus tutorial—but it’s especially good that she went on the trip, because my calculus student had been busy with other things this past week and so we decided not to meet. And I made a giant pompom with K instead.
12:15 pm – Recess! This is a class I run on Thursdays during the noontime lunch period. We go outside (typically) and play some sort of athletic game. Today we played Spud. I think we got up to eleven participants at our max. A simple game, not as exerting as some of the other games we’ve played, but a lot of fun. We adapted the rules so that we “ran away” in different styles, like “baby steps” or “spy crab”.
1 pm – Briefly checked in with a member who’s one of our photographers. We’ve been trying to put together a system for getting photos they take onto PLC’s website, Facebook page, and elsewhere. B laid out a sensible plan that we’ll run with.
1:10 I usually have a Geometry tutorial this hour, but I checked in with N and he decided to hang out in the common room instead for the day. He’s really self-motivated and has been working through a Geometry book on his own and with the support of his grandma. Our meeting times are really just him working on his own, with him asking me an occasional question or me offering some additional resources or ideas.
So for a chunk of this hour today, I went back to doing some of my own odds and ends of work. I did, however, meet with a member M who doesn’t do classes very much but who has been talking off and on about getting back into doing some math. He had asked me about my geometry tutorial earlier in the day and I said I’d print him out a couple of angle chasing worksheets. I saw him going into the workshop during this 1:00 hour and poked my head in. He’s in there a lot, working on various construction projects. So I invited him over and he and I sat down and did some geometry for part of the hour.
2 pm – Video Games class. I had sent around a link to Thomas Was Alone in the interval since our last class. Some kids had played it some, others weren’t interested in it. We chatted some and played the video games we wanted to some. Pretty low key.
3 pm – With the day wrapping up, I found A to chat about how her day had gone. For a while it was just me and her and later another staff member joined us. A talked about details she noticed at the construction site, about how her long math session with a staff member had given her the chance to ask many of the questions that she hadn’t felt comfortable asking in class, and about how at PLC there are so many opportunities to interact with people and how everyone is so friendly.
So it seemed like she had had a good day. :)
We then talked about different timelines for joining PLC that are possible—right away, after Thanksgiving, at semester—and how she might approach explaining her choice to the people in her school life—if in fact she decides to come to PLC.
3:30 pm – Chatted some with A and her mom and two staff members out in the common room as they (and we) wrapped up our day. Hopefully they’ll have a good chat tonight, and maybe we’ll see them again soon!
Thanks for writing this up! Very interesting. Keep us posted!!!
This sounds like a very intriguing place to work. I’ll bet you never get bored. How do you keep from wanting to pursue a million different things at once?
Sounds like a fascinating school! Is it Montessori or Waldorf or just independent?
Your new location sounds very intriguing, and it sounds like you are feeling good about it. Very interesting place; I agree with Megan (above) – how do you keep from wanting to pursue a million things – although it sounds very member-driven. Keep posting – I’d love to hear more!
From Twitter, glad to hear that A will be joining you! Sounds like a different and interesting workplace. I also killed a couple minutes with your Pong Song… managed to impale two balls on the paddles as one other ticked back and forth. That’s a feature, right?
At any rate, glad you found time to get this down, and hope you enjoy shaking your pompoms!
What an innovative program this is! It is so nice to have time to sit and chat with colleagues as well as the members of your program. Those relationships are the critical piece of teaching/learning. Those of us in the public school would like you all to invent a time-stretching machine for us!