Choosing a school is an important and often emotional decision. You want what’s best for your family and to make the “right” choice for your children’s futures.
With admissions season in full swing, I’ve had the opportunity to meet incredible parents who are in the process of making this difficult choice. My goal is to enable families to confidently answer the question on all of their minds: Will this school be a great fit for my child and my family?
My advice? Focus on what’s unique and make sure that resonates with you.
There are many excellent schools and they tend to use similar sounding concepts to explain their approaches to education. High-quality schools tend to do a lot of the same things well. When you visit a school, ask what makes that school different and listen carefully to the answer. Does the response excite you? Does it speak to something fundamental about the education you envision for your child? Perhaps most importantly, what evidence can you find that the differences are real?
So what makes AltSchool unique? There are many things, but these three set us apart from other schools:
- Exceptional educators who want to create the next model for education
- A deeply personalized experience for children and families, designed from the ground up
- A relentless focus on improving the entire school experience
1. Exceptional educators who want to create the next model for education
This is the reason I joined AltSchool — I had never seen a school or school system so effectively attract and retain the highest quality educators. Our 21st century work environment attracts a different caliber of educator— one who is excited to improve their practice and improve the field of education as a whole.
We receive an enormous number of applications for each teaching position: over 3,000 teachers applied for 40 positions last year. Take a look at this infographic to learn more about where our teachers come from and view this video to meet the team. Above all, their passion is tangible. They ignite curiosity and wonder in children by engaging their talents and tuning into their individual needs.
Once we hire the best educators in the country, we empower them. Here’s how we do it:
- Let teachers run our schools: The only people who work at our school sites are educators. In addition to classroom teachers, there is a Head of School, who is also a teacher. The rest of our organization — teacher support, operations, designers, and engineers — all support educator needs so they can focus on their students.
- Ask how we can make things better: We care about our educators’ happiness. We survey educators every month to identify ways to improve their experiences and effectiveness, from work/life balance to development of our classroom technology tools.
- Encourage and enable professional development: Teachers want to be students too. Each educator receives a generous stipend to attend conferences and training programs around the globe.
- Create tools to help educators spend more time teaching: Our technology tools superpower our educators so that they can get curate personalized curricula and assess the progress of each child. These tools also reduce a teacher’s administrative work so they can focus on teaching.
2. A deeply personalized experience for children and families, designed from the ground up
Each child is different. And yet, the structural limitation of traditional schools forces them to treat children as if they were all the same.
At AltSchool we like to say that “there’s no such thing as a “3rd grader.” An 8-year old may read at a 2nd grade level, do math at a 4th grade level, and possess the social-emotional skills of a 3rd grader. We believe that a child’s education should reflect their individuality, challenging them at the right level in each academic area, as well as kindling their unique passions. Our mixed-age classrooms also support each child to progress at his or her own pace.
The combination of incredible teachers and technology to personalize learning is powerful. Our skilled educators come to know each individual child’s interests and learning approaches, and use our tools to develop a curriculum unique to them. The result is that children are deeply engaged in their own learning — as they are challenged at just the right level and can explore their passions in meaningful ways.
School should not be a one size fits all for families either. We partner with parents on everything from drop-off and pick-up times to communication with educators to vacation schedules.
3. The relentless focus on improving the entire school experience
AltSchool is designed to continually improve. We live by feedback — from students, parents, and teachers. And then we take action on that feedback to improve. Many of the technology tools we’ve built for students and families stemmed directly from such feedback.
We apply what we learn in a given classroom (or from an individual parent, student or teacher) to our tools and processes that impact all classrooms. Improvements made in one classroom can benefit our entire network of schools. In this way, we get better as we grow.
AltSchool does not take a static approach to education. Instead, we view ourselves as an ecosystem (parents, students, teachers, employees) focused on improving education everyday. And we are honored that our approach has been recognized as one of the most innovative in the world.
Applying to AltSchool
If our approach resonates with you, I encourage you to apply.