My colleagues and I started Long-View Micro School because we wanted school to be the most interesting part of a child’s life. We believed that to be possible. Long-View serves as the school home for 64 2nd – 8th graders who experience school as a place where they learn to think, a place where they can take initiative, a place where they have extended challenge, a place that opens them up to the fascinating parts of the world.
Micro schools – if you aren’t familiar with that genre of schooling – are gaining attention nationally as a model that unbundles schooling and elevates academic excellence and innovation.
Micro schools are interesting because they are more nimble organizations that typically sit much further on the spectrum away from the industrial model of schooling: micro schools are changing how students are organized, how time is organized, how teachers work, and how the business of school is run….
At Long-View, our days begin not with the ringing of a school bell, but with the resonant hum of a singing bowl. Teachers, learners, and visitors gather around an (unignited) campfire log, and as the sound of the singing bowl fades slowly to silence, we settle ourselves in for a rich day of learning.
This ritual, which we call “Campfire,” is not just circle time or show-and-tell, but an intellectually rigorous start to every day. We begin by greeting each member of the community with the Zulu word Sawubona, which means “I see you.” Each person responds, “Sikhona,” meaning “I am here.” But don’t be mistaken--this is not just a silly way of taking attendance. When our learners say they are here, they mean it in every sense of the phrase. Not only are they physically and intellectually present, but they are here for each other as a community of thinkers and problem-solvers….
It’s the start of a new school year at Long-View and things feel familiar, but at the same time, everything looks a bit different. Summertime was busy with a remodel of new space we recently acquired. We pulled out walls, re-thought the flow between rooms, and added our signature décor that looks more akin to a creative work space than an elementary and middle school, all in preparation for a larger student community and faculty team.
Getting new spaces ready for our expanded community meant another opportunity to continue to deepen our thinking about how space affects learning and how design of space can positively influence our community….
Building community is at the heart of our work at Long-View. We believe learning is accelerated through meaningful interactions with others. Furthermore, we believe families should be involved in creating a culture of learning that blurs the lines of “school learning” and outside learning. We cannot achieve that end if we do not involve families in developing meaningful relationships with us (the school and staff) and with each other. Thus, to begin and reconnect those relationships, we kick off each school year with an event we call the Parent Tailgate….
Recently, we were reflecting on the progress of one of our students, a girl who is 8-years-old. We began thinking about several other girls at Long-View, and how much each one had transformed during her time at the school. This led us to think back on how each presented as she arrived. For a handful, this was a few months back, and for others was a year or more ago. Each girl had changed in her own way and transformed into an active, vocal, and passionate learner within our classrooms. Each has strong intellectual engagement, tenacity, and an inner strength that raises us all up.
The thing is, if these girls weren’t at Long-View, you’d probably see them meeting requirements and getting by, but the most you’d have to say about each is “she’s fine.” However, “She’s fine” is the problem for so many girls in elementary and middle schools....