Read about our typical day here.
What does “ungraded” mean at The New School?
Our students work at their own pace, so the level of difficulty of their work is determined by their own abilities and interests. We call this “ungraded” because we are not dependent on an arbitrarily determined definition of “standard grade level.” This allows children the freedom to investigate subjects more deeply and feel comfortable doing so.
When you say “students structure their own day,” are you literally talking about a room full of kids all doing different things at the same time?
This can happen sometimes! But at many other times groups may be working together, some students may be reading or working independently, or a whole class may be sitting together for a discussion or quiet work period. The coordination of these activities is decided upon by the class and their teacher together on a regular basis.
Yes, they do. A big say. They are offered a lot of guidance, naturally, but they generally have a lot to say all around (!) and we use that as an opportunity to teach planning, initiative, teamwork and cooperation. Our youngest students are very proud of this, and they should be.
Yes! We have been privileged to witness this every day for 40 years. When free to do so, children learn these skills at different times, at different rates and in their own ways, and we allow for that. If their parents allow for it as well, those students are happier and more self-confident, too!
Yes. Consequently, our teachers get to know their students’ personalities, work habits, strengths and weaknesses much more profoundly than other teachers typically do. A level of trust develops between student and teacher that is rare and enriching for both.
First, we have to state that our experience is that all children are “gifted,” and our methodology is designed to nurture all children in developing their gifts. This being said, yes, students who traditionally would be labeled as “gifted” naturally thrive in an environment where all students are encouraged to learn at their own pace and are respected for doing so. In fact, so-called “gifted” children tend to feel less ostracized at The New School than they do in other settings and are often unaware that their learning profiles might make them unusual in any way.
Sure, lots of times. These things are incorporated into classwork by the teachers where and when appropriate as learning tools, but they are not relied upon as a sole or main means of teaching or reinforcing skills.
We find it very important for children to have most afternoons free to pursue family and after school activities, unhampered by guilt or boring “busy work” assignments. Our students are very quick to point out that their teachers do not assign homework! Strictly speaking, this is true; however, it is also true that our students occasionally opt to bring work home on their own! They may choose to do this because of the way they have scheduled their work time, because they are enjoying a project too much to stop at the end of the school day, because they want to free up their classroom time for a group activity, or for many other reasons. They don’t usually consider this to qualify as “real homework,” and parents are usually happy to find that New School students do not require “homework police!”
Yes, that’s right. We do not administer tests or quizzes in the traditional sense. Sometimes classmates quiz each other to gauge what they have learned, but we don’t “keep score”! Our teachers know their students very well and help each of them to assess their own progress in more useful ways than by assigning grades to their accomplishments or comparing their work to others’. As they grow through the school, children learn to set their own goals and to judge their own progress by their own standards, and not through arbitrary competition.
We don’t use report cards. We provide our parents with MORE information about their child’s school progress than a report card ever could. Instead of passively receiving report cards, our parents take part in an interactive exchange of information, including regular meetings with their child’s teachers, which allows them to see and hear for themselves about their child’s successes, struggles and day to day life at school. Questions and concerns are addressed in an on-going way, as parents become partners with their children and with us in the educational process. Incidentally, this level of involvement also affords our parents a better chance to share in their children’s joy and accomplishments as well!
Our graduates take with them portfolios of their accomplishments and personal references from their teachers when they go to high school. High school guidance counselors and deans are pleasantly surprised (if not outright shocked!) by the in-depth and detailed information that they get about our graduates, which far exceeds what they are used to learning about incoming students. And, of course, the more information they have, the better they can match our students with the curriculum that best suits them. This makes all parties happier!
All over! Some go to public high schools, some to private schools, some go to the MCVoc schools (MAST, Communications High, High Tech High, BioTech, or Allied Health), some to magnet or specialty schools, some to boarding schools. A few have chosen to homeschool. They follow their own passions! Click here for the full list.
We are deeply proud to be able to report that they tend to manage beautifully, and we believe this is because they have the skills and confidence to take on new challenges. This question is best answered at our Graduate Night by the graduates, themselves.