About Our Class
The Older Class comprises 6th, 7th and 8th graders, generally in a group of 14-18 students. It is a dynamic environment in which each student plays an important role in helping create the essence of the class as an interdependent and cooperative group. Because of this, each year the class is different, and that is what makes it a continuously rich environment for all to learn in through direct experience. Individuals add their personalities and strengths, and work on weaknesses freely when they recognize this class is a safe place to take these steps and to learn and grow. The level of thinking and discussion that occur on any day often amazes visitors to the class.
The Older Class day is a mixture of small group and class sessions that afford the freedom to make choices. Weekly schedules are given out to the class as guidelines and are a combination of group and class work, allowing time for individual work and those projects that occur or evolve spontaneously during the week. In addition, as students are learning how to get along together, being responsible to themselves and to the group is a part of each day’s experiences.
The teacher’s job is one of involving students in the class in every way, creating a balance that makes the day as enjoyable and productive as possible, ensuring the relevance of classwork, and providing every opportunity for students to extend and make connections between the different things they are learning. Participation and direct experience are constant goals.
Older class teacher Jay Smith describes, “Watching my class together, full of energy and happy, I realize that those two things are key to why the Older Class is such an important part of each of the students’ lives. It is a place where their opinions and efforts are encouraged and needed, where they get a real sense of self and their own power, and where they know adults are there for them, providing a comfortable environment and offering support and guidance.”