Lynne Henwood, Opening Head of School
As I reflect on my third week at FlexSchool and gear up for Week 4, I’m noticing an evolution of sorts.
During Week 1, we at FlexSchool worked hard to create a community in which children could feel safe and accepted just as they are. We nurtured relationships and established trust. Of course, this is an ongoing process.
Week 2 brought with it the opportunity for teachers and staff to learn about each child and discover strategies with which to help them learn and grow. This week involved a lot of trial and error while finding effective ways to motivate and encourage the students. Boundaries were tested, and everyone at FlexSchool began to find their ‘groove’. Again, this will be ongoing.
In Week 3, we were ready to begin tightening up the structure and routine of FlexSchool. We know that humans crave order and structure and that children feel ‘safer’ when there is predictability. Some students cleverly argued that this isn’t very ‘FLEX’ible, but we explained that flexibility comes from structure. We are flexible within the methods by which students engage in and with content, in the level or depth of the content, and in the way students can show mastery of the content. We are flexible when they need a quick break, or need to talk to someone. They will learn via their strengths while managing their challenges.
We are still working to uncover and nurture the strengths of each child, and finding ways to allow them to use those strengths to learn at the appropriate pace and depth. Ultimately, our goal is to help students develop a growth mindset. We want students to use their resiliency tools to tackle content that is just out of their reach, content that requires an element of struggle. We want them to fail just enough to realize that it is in failing that we learn and grow. We want them to become lifelong learners.
So what will Week 4 bring? Challenge. We will start raising the bar for our students so they can develop a sense of self-efficacy. Of course, they will be scaffolded and supported through it all. But we want them to grapple with interesting, thought-provoking content and go home feeling fulfilled and inspired.