A key feature of the Expeditionary Learning model is that adult members of the school community take the time to know each student well. Equally important, the model recognizes that a positive student culture is the result of a positive adult culture.
Students, teachers, community members and parents are expected to be collaborators in creating and modeling the school’s mission and purpose and in modeling the types of interactions and behaviors we want our youth to emulate. In the course of this collaboration, teachers, parents and community members engage in listening, teaching, sharing, resolution of conflict, growth and patience. We model, practice and enforce the skills of setting boundaries, being accountable, being reflective, being respectful, and being responsible.
All of the school’s adults have a role in creating and maintaining a strong culture.
Parents are valued and engaged as partners in decision-making, in supporting student learning, and in developing resources.
Community members are acknowledged as valuable experts. Whether the experts are paid Naval Museum staff who guide students through Vallejo’s history or elders who volunteer their time to be interviewed by-or to read to-students, the key lesson for students is that all people have value; that all people have a lesson to impart, if we engage in our community with respect and appreciation.
Similarly, students are expected to make their contribution too. Most expeditions involve students in”giving back” to the community in a meaningful way, because it is imperative that students understand that being part of a community is about responsibility and sharing, as well as about being safe and being deeply cared for.
Teachers are expected to be good learners … to explore the world around them, to engage in intensive professional development, and to bring their new knowledge back to the school’s professional community so that it can become part of the school’s practice. Teachers are also responsible for designing learning experiences that allow students to explore the”big questions” themselves. What does it mean to be part of a community? How do communities resolve differences? What holds us together? These are the essential questions that hold the possibility of helping us live together in a sustainable way.
Setting boundaries, asking questions, taking responsibility, honoring expertise, and modeling positive interactions are life skills that make school a safe place and an exciting venue. These are the basic skills that are central to well-being and academic success.