It’s Not a Mystery

Joel HammonUncategorized

teenager saying thank you to volunteers

Let me start with a simple fact: a lot of teenagers don’t like school. (Shocking, I know.) There are a lot of reasons for this, but one of the big ones is that many teens don’t feel like they have much say in their day-to-day lives — the work they do, who they interact with, their schedule. This lack of control … Read More

Letting Go and Listening

Scott GallagherUncategorized

The traditional school system structure is top down with teachers somewhere in the middle. Everyone knows their role, and can choose to submit or rebel as it suits them.  At The Learning Cooperatives we replace the top down model with a collaborative approach where the teens have much more agency. Not being told what to do can create some culture … Read More

Giving Grades the Deep Six

Eileen SmythUncategorized

At The Learning Cooperatives, we view liberation from grading as a cornerstone of our approach. This decision isn’t only based in ideology, but experience. I’ve taught for over twenty years in various types of institutions including some that used grades and some that didn’t. I’ve observed that grades often do a lot less good than we hope and often more … Read More

Knowledge: Pay It Forward

Jack FirnenoUncategorized

Knowledge: pay it forward

During my mid-twenties, I played drums in a band where everyone else was ten years older than me. They were good players and songwriters; organized and well-resourced. I became a better player by osmosis, and learned a lot about managing bands and booking gigs. My bandmates also gave me plenty of insight and perspective about — for lack of a … Read More

The Mentoring Effect

Alison SnieckusUncategorized

Katy mentoring meeting

When PLC members move on from PLC, into college, work, and life generally, they nearly always express how much their mentoring relationship has helped and supported them as they forged their path through opportunities and offerings. Mentoring is without a doubt the part of the “PLC magic” that we most value. It’s more important than just about everything. The first … Read More

Pure and Simple

Katy BurkeUncategorized

You ever have one of those days when nothing seems to satisfy? Like you’re walking around wearing shades on a cloudy day? I was having a day like that about a week ago and was hungry for something pure and good, something free from the spoils of the modern world.  So I headed east.  Nothing, I thought, is more boundless … Read More

Well-Rounded?

Joel HammonUncategorized

Auroro studying a flower

In a blog post about misunderstandings, Seth Godin wrote this: And anyone who has been through high school has been reminded how important it is to be well-rounded. But Nobel Prize winners, successful NGO founders and just about everyone you admire didn’t get that way by being mediocre at a lot of things. It got me thinking. It’s nearly an … Read More

Bringing Joy to the Classroom

Eileen SmythUncategorized

I was on my way to work recently when it occurred to me I would be early again, and that I was in fact happy about it. Crossing over the bridge into Pennsylvania, I mused on how long it had been since I’d felt sad, pressured, daunted, ground down, or any of the tangle of difficult emotions I used to … Read More

Move Over, Rigor

Katy BurkeUncategorized

Vigor vs Rigor - sprout coming up out of crack in asphalt

Years ago, a good friend of mine said something that just stuck with me.  “I could care less about rigor”—surprising words from an honors-level high school teacher. “What I care about is vigor.” I realized that she had assumed a completely new intention for challenging students in their learning. Rather than trying to get them to work hard at hard … Read More

Teaching Character vs. Compliance

Katy BurkeUncategorized

ready for testing

Educating children can look and feel a lot like raising them.  It is certainly not the same as parenting—I say that as an educator and a parent. However, the purpose of parenting and educating are very much aligned. The word “educate” means “to lead out”—to lead out into the world, into adulthood, into a future. I think it’s important that … Read More