What Happens During Community Time?

What does it mean to be "in community?" Students are more than individuals when they attend school. They experience each school day in interaction with the people around them. Peers and adults both share and shape each moment of the school day. Shared moments reinforce students' memories of the events and expose them to diversity of thought. Community becomes defined by moments experienced with diverse groups of people.

Richard Kassissieh

by Richard Kassissieh, Academic Dean and Director of Strategic Program Initiatives

What does it mean to be "in community?" Students are more than individuals when they attend school. They experience each school day in interaction with the people around them. Peers and adults both share and shape each moment of the school day. Shared moments reinforce students' memories of the events and expose them to diversity of thought. Community becomes defined by moments experienced with diverse groups of people.

While being in community happens most often during classes, other groups are also important parts of the UPrep experience. Advisories, clubs, book groups, one's grade level, the full school, and even groups composed just once create community through collective sharing and shaping.

Community Time features daily in UPrep's new schedule. How does the time benefit students? For one, Community Time consolidates events that used to happen during shorter, more rushed time blocks such as third period and lunch, when students were also trying to eat. The new schedule is less rushed and more focused, deepening the design and memory of community events.

Student-designed games

Community Time also provides a home for social and emotional learning, a UPrep strategic plan initiative. Grade level deans and advisors lead activities designed to develop resilience, empathy, reflection, relationships, and mindfulness. Growth in these areas supports healthy development and academic focus.

What happens during Community Time? Let's look at the five days of school that we just completed.

  Upper School Middle School
Wednesday,
August 30

Division meetings
Advisories

Fire and earthquake drill

Thursday,
August 31

Class meetings
Schedule changes
Ninth grade advisories
Free time

Recess on Dahl Field

Friday,
September 1
Class meetings
Schedule changes
ASB meeting
Facilitator Leaders meeting
School programs open houses

Grade level meetings

Tuesday,
September 5
Advisories
12th grade class meeting

Assembly
Advisory check-in

Wednesday,
September 6
Announcements
Summer Reading book groups

Games on Dahl Field planned by Student Government

UPrep's assistant division directors Sarah Peterson and Kyle Lawhead coordinate a detailed schedule and plan for Community Time. Lawhead says, "some of the curricular things that don't fit nicely into a classroom now have pockets of time that allow them to happen on a deeper level. A lot of thought has gone into developmentally appropriate activities that develop those skills." Peterson uses Community Time to meet the needs of students in different grade levels. "The ninth grade advisory has been able to meet every day since the start of school, which has been really helpful."

Music teacher Thane Lewis leads a summer reading discussion.

Student choice is an important feature of Community Time. It's a goal of the UPrep experience for students to develop responsibility and independence during their school career. For Middle School students, deciding whether to attend a club meeting, visit a teacher for help, or stay in advisory (a.k.a. "Priority Day"). Upper School students appropriately have more choice between clubs and free time.

"Clubs not happening at lunch is also a big benefit of Community Time," says Lawhead. "We've been able to establish club time when you know your students and teacher will be available," says Peterson. Club meetings will begin after next week's club fairs.

As the year continues, the school will continue to refine and develop Community Time to respond to the student experience and meet learning goals. We look forward to continuing to tell the stories of the deeper learning and collective experiences of Community Time.

 

 

 

 



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