Time for an update.
We’ve been in Point England for over a full week, now, so I’ve had enough time to make some observations about the way things work here at Pt England School.
The biggest thing I’ve noticed is how much the structure, attitude, and policies of the school work to build community among the students, faculty, and parents.
First, the students take off their shoes when they enter the building. I’ve been told this is for two reasons: 1) it is a cultural norm to take your shoes off when entering someone’s house, so it is a sign of respect, and 2) the kids are outside playing in the field during the day, so this keeps them from tracking mud into the building. Form and function.
The students start each morning with an assembly, where they sing, discuss the daily agenda and any school news, and try to set the attitude for the day. All the year 7/8 students do this together as part of Team 5, rather than starting each day only in your classroom with 30 other kids or so. It really creates an atmosphere of “we’re all in this together,” which is really cool.
The building itself has a somewhat-open floor plan, so the kids are able to move freely from classroom to classroom, as well as the common area connecting them all. The students also sit on the floor at the beginning of each class, when they take roll, when they pack up at the end of the day. Rather than being assigned a specific desk, they have a certain amount of freedom in establishing their ‘place.’ It all seems to work toward making this place feel like home, rather than just a school.
Aside from community, the other big thing I have noticed is how much autonomy the students get throughout the day, but I’ll save that for the next update.