Thank you. Truly.
When I fell into teaching, it was quite organic. Borderline accidental. For whatever reason, I didn’t expect to have, much less to enjoy, the success and fulfillment that I experienced over those years. Am I that dense?
Long before I finally began teaching, people were asking me to start a school. This request, as massive and ridiculous as it has sounded every single time it has come up, was echoed en masse by adults who entrusted me with more and more of their children’s educational lives, first as a part-time teacher who they might see once or twice a week, and then as the educator who ran full cohorts that met for hours each day, growing and learning together, exploring the world, asking better questions of ourselves and of life.
Is this “school” my Nineveh? I don’t know. But I’m going to try to find out. As my 2021 students and their families heard first, I have committed to taking a significant amount of time to truly think and work through the question of whether or not I will be opening an official school, what that might look like practically, legally, academically, spiritually, who I will call out to as co-conspirators and co-adventurers in such an endeavor, the why of every bit of it.
I am on on a discernment break from teaching with the intent to have a decision by the end of June 2023. During this time, I will be considering all the many pieces and parts of a project as tremendous as opening a school. I will occasionally teach pop-up classes (because I love teaching), but I feel it is incredibly important to focus on the bigger picture, both for the sake of my own educational vision and for the sake of our larger learning community.
If I do decide to open a school, it will likely not be starting in July of 2023, or even September of 2023. I don’t know which ages might be included in the first cohort. I don’t know any of it, at this point. But I will turn to all of you for your thoughts and your support along the way. If I do decide to open a school, it won’t be “my” school, even if I am chiefly responsible for it. I thank all of you who have been, over the years, part of the “we” of our learning community, and I look forward to understanding more about who we are and what our purpose is in convening.
For my former students & their adults
Yes, I still love you. Of course!
If you would like or require access to your different course materials from time spent in my classes, please check the system you learned through prior to contacting me for help.
If you informed me at the time of the class that you would be using it to seek credit from your local school district or another program, I have archived all materials (including student work, my evaluations, any paperwork from the accrediting body, etc.) and will preserve them for five years from the date that you confirmed that I had completed my portion of the submission. As always, I strongly suggest that you keep copies of all of these materials in a safe place for your own reference.
If you took a class with me on Outschool or another online a la carte class service, your materials are available through your student portal according to their own terms of preservation. I, again, recommend preserving your work independently, and I maintain copies only of work that was part of a credit-seeking portfolio or similar.
If you took a class with me through a homeschooling cooperative or other independent educational group, I have again only preserved credit-seeking work, and it is otherwise subject to the terms and processes of the particular group.
If you learned in one of my independent self-run programs (i.e. you logged in to a special account on this website), you still have access to all of your work, regardless of credit-seeking status. I plan to keep all systems actively open to students and parents for at least one year (i.e. through the end of 2023), and will independently archive all learner work for five years regardless of whether self-service is available. I encourage everyone to independently archive her own work, but of course our class recordings and student conversations should not be shared beyond the established cohort environments, and certainly not without permission of every party involved in any particular piece. Available in both student and parent portals, you should be able to download an interactive transcript that will make all of your work accessible in a linked PDF; videos, naturally, show up in the PDF as a still image. I encourage you to use a PDF annotation device to add in the URL for any videos you wish to include once you have uploaded them to your own website, YouTube, etc. so you can continue to have everything in the same place.
It is a joy and an honor for me to write recommendations for former students of mine, don’t be shy!
Additionally, for families where I have been established in an educational guidance role, we will continue with this relationship for as long as it works for all of us. I’m excited about what you’re learning, even when it’s not with me.
And, as always, please be in touch!
For my future students & their adults
I am not at the point where I am willing to start building a list for the next iteration, and it is very much my desire and intention to release a full brochure that clearly articulates the full scope of any future offerings prior to taking applications. In the past, requirements for my cohorts have been relatively consistent, and I list them here only as reference for the “vibe” of what might be expected going forward. Typically, I have required of students ages 11-14:
Successful completion of Story and Symbol 101, through Outschool, a homeschooling cooperative, or other arrangement. (I will schedule occasional and by-request sections of this class on Outschool during this discernment period.)
Ongoing engagement with at least one language other than English. (This can be as simple as the learner actively using Duolingo.) If the student lives in a bilingual household, I still encourage engagement with an additional language.
Unfettered internet access. While I fully agree that there are tremendously disturbing things on the internet, few filters are at all successful in blocking these things without significant loss of appropriate, helpful materials, all the more true when we are learning across several languages. It is important to work with your child to develop a healthy relationship with the internet, including methods for coping with stumbling across inappropriate material.
Regular access to outdoor spaces. In the future, even if this is provided on-campus, it is still important for children to have safe spaces to be outdoors in their home life, whether in a manicured environment, or one that is feral or wild. Many of our assignments require being outside, in the real world. City-dwellers have used parks, botanical gardens, and even zoos to approach different questions that more rural students have been able to engage with by merely stepping outside onto the family ranch.
A home environment conducive and committed to learning and growing in community. This is perhaps the most important requirement. My students thrive first and foremost because their families and home environments let them, and encourage them through example. You won’t always understand what kids are learning in class, but listening to them at the dinner table is important for their intellectual and emotional development.
For students in my Jewish sections (both pan-Orthodox and pluralistic cohorts), I do not require knowledge of Hebrew or Aramaic (as with my secular classes, I typically give students the option to read a source in its original language, in English translation, or both), but I do require basic knowledge of major canonical stories (e.g. the expulsion from Eden, the Great Flood, the Exodus, etc.); I have offered classes covering the important points for students who might want some review prior to joining a cohort.
For those who have taken interest in my curricula or made use of my educational consulting services
These matters will be part of my discernment process over the next while; I am currently not selling any of my curricula or offering educational consulting services outside of my ongoing institutional involvements and continued learning trajectory guidance for former students.