Challenges & Changes: Expeditions at The Greene School

  Brendan Haggerty           March 19, 2018 - 12:04pm

Expeditions are the defining, rewarding, engaging core of students’ experiences at the Greene School. They are totally worth all the energy we put into them. But it’s important to acknowledge that there are many challenges to this to approach to teaching and learning, for both teachers and students. 

For teachers, one of the greatest challenges is of course time! When integrating multiple content areas, our educators need to be diligent about balancing the need for both “pure” content learning, and the time consuming demands of interdisciplinary case-studies, projects and products. The ability to develop grade-level teams that can have productive and efficient common planning time is another critical practice that is also a continual challenge.

Paying for fieldwork is a challenge for both students and the school community at large. Much of the most costly fieldwork experience students are able to experience at TGS is subsidised by either fundraising by our Parent Teacher Student Organization or through grants.

Flexibility and individuality of student work makes consistency with rigor expectations challenging. This requires teacher to assess their own essential standards in their courses through more traditional assessments.

One final challenge that is worth mentioning is that the structure of the curriculum is designed with the expectation that all students in a grade will be in the same core ELA, science, and socialstudies courses. However, there are always students whose schedules do not fit this norm -- either because they have transfer into our learning community or they have failed a class in their previous year. We address this challenge of students “straddling” two learning expeditions at the same time on a case-by-case basis, and use all relevant data to work with families to plan for each students’ participation in key expedition components. For example if there is a fieldwork experience that is critical to a particular class, we will make sure that that student is able to attend. Additionally, we will modify the expectations for specific components of a final product based upon the schedule of the specific student.

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