What to Expect at Wildwood
We believe children need a setting to develop their social, cultural and emotional intelligence, motivation, self-knowledge, and sense of purpose. To this end, we trust kids to direct interests and provide scaffolding, support, encouragement and resources along the way.
ALC Tools: We use practical tools to make these ideals real and reliable. These tools and practices provide visible feedback, effective self-management, clarity of purpose, and instead of rigid top-down rules, they allow for easy integration of new patterns as needs
Self-Direction: Humans are natural learners. When children get to play and follow their passions, they engage deeply, learning more quickly and thoroughly – covering years of content in weeks at the time they choose to learn it.
Intentional Culture: at Wildwood children feel they are heard, they belong, and they make a difference. As social creatures, we thrive in this kind of vibrant community which builds our confidence, heightens our communication skills, and calls forth our best selves. Children help create the culture/rules/structures of our group through developing self-awareness, maturation, and authentic communication.
The soil we grow from is TRUST: in students, in each other, in ourselves.
The four assumptions that ground us are:
1. Learning is natural. It’s happening all the time.
2. People learn best when they make their own decisions. Children are people.
3. People learn more from the environment/culture they are immersed in than from the content they are taught.
4. People develop strength and purpose through cycles of Intention, Creation, Reflection, Sharing.
At Wildwood, we discern and articulate what we want to do, individually and as a group. The first day of the week begins with brief whole group meeting to plan and share the available offerings for that week. Offerings are then displayed on daily schedule boards and include any workshops, special topics, focus groups, classes, projects etc. offered by volunteers, friends, subject matter experts, parents and the kids themselves! There is no limit to what will be offered, and kids always have the choice to participate.
Each morning children also gather for 15-30 minutes and each person has the opportunity to share their personal intentions for what they hope to do that day and make any needed requests for support.
Creation- What are you going to do about it?
During the day, the magic of self-directed learning unfolds! Children choose what to engage in and when: they create, explore, invent, collaborate, play, participate in chosen offerings/outings, eat when they are hungry, and receive support from facilitators as needed.
Reflection- What did you learn from your choices?
At the end of each day, children gather in the same small groups to check in on their intentions from the morning, document the things they did during the day, and reflect on whether they accomplished what they wanted to. Children’s documentation tools can be used to self-assess their progress toward their goals, notice patterns in their choices and use of time, and decide if they want to change their approach to their intentions next time. Through this feedback cycle, learners develop awareness of what worked and what didn’t, so they can move forward more powerfully. Finally, we also take a few minutes at the end of the day to express any words of gratitude and acknowledgment.
Sharing- How can you share it with the world?
We learn with and from each other…we document our learning experiences in order to share with others and build learner portfolios when children are ready.
At Wildwood, children feel they are heard, they belong, and they make a difference. Both adults and children in the Wildwood community actively contribute to shared decision-making and creating/maintaining a positive culture. Regular (every other week) brief “change-up” meetings are held to discuss and possibly change up the culture and practices of Wildwood, and all participants have an equal voice. “Awarenesses” (issues a participant would like the group to address) are brought up, and solutions are brainstormed, implemented, and revisited at future meetings.
THE FACILITATORS’ ROLE:
Facilitators support children in clarifying their intentions, getting connected to the resources they need, reflecting on their decisions, engaging with the community, and sharing their learning. They work to keep the space safe and respectful, and they model clear communication, collaboration, and authenticity.
The ALC Educational Model
Check out Agile Learning Facilitator and founder of ALC Mosaic, Nancy Tilton, speaking at The What if…? Conference in Columbia, MO. She speaks about happiness, “flow,” and her journey starting an ALC.