AltSchool Hub

A Sneak Peek at our Summer Maker Labs

Posted by Kristin Uhlemeyer

Jun 17, 2016 9:33:05 AM

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I want my students to walk away from my classes with more questions than when they entered. My goal is to engage their curiosity, inspire exploration, and empower them with the skills and ability to find the answers on their own. Every student should leave the classroom excited to learn more and looking forward to the next school day.

Helping students to start building, tinkering, and creating gives them a chance to guide their own learning and be fully engaged with the subject matter. At the end of the day, Maker culture is motivated by curiosity and fun, making it the perfect model for shared student-led classroom experiences.

The Summer @ AltSchool Maker Labs are full of exciting projects, recycled and reused materials, Lego Robotics, Snap Circuits, drop cloths, and more. I am definitely not afraid to get a little dirty and create a few explosions. In the immortal words of Miss Frizzle from The Magic School Bus, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!”

Summer is the perfect opportunity to embrace the Maker mentality and the process over the product. I love that we can focus on one topic in depth and allow for extended, uninterrupted project time. I can give students more time to experiment and experience the glory of failure, which provides diving boards for new learning opportunities.

The curriculum is made up of a compilation of lessons from other teachers and inspirations from Stanford and the Exploratorium. I’ve tried these lessons with students and we continue to refine them (being a teacher is just like being a Maker!). AltSchool has provided amazing professional development opportunities which have greatly influenced me as an educator. These experiences have helped me define my ideas of the Maker philosophy and how it can translate to AltSchool’s summer curriculum.

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Kristin Uhlemeyer is a full-time AltSchool educator who also develops the curriculum for Summer Maker Lab Sessions. This is her third year teaching Summer @ AltSchool. She previously taught summer programs at the Bay Area Discovery Museum and was a counselor for Camp Invention.

Interested in joining Kristin and the rest of our amazing educators this summer? Two-week summer sessions run from June 20-August 12 in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Brooklyn. Learn more about our Maker Lab sessions including Robotics, Game Design, and Design Thinking.

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Topics: Meet the Team, Summer, Classroom Stories

First Look at AltSchool East Village

Posted by The AltSchool Team

Jun 17, 2016 9:32:30 AM

We recently put the finishing touches on AltSchool East Village, our newest school in New York City. We’ve created a responsive learning environment that will support each student’s process of self-discovery, giving them the tools and confidence to pursue their interests while building strong academic skills.

Our new Head of School, Alex Ragone, and the entire teaching team are excited to welcome new families this fall. Alex brings 18 years of experience teaching in and leading independent schools in New York City. He will join experienced AltSchool educators from our San Francisco and Brooklyn Heights schools -- Jaqi Garcia, Sophia Espinoza, and Jamie Stewart -- to start the inaugural year at AltSchool East Village.

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Who we are - When designing the space, we always want to incorporate our learning cycle, milestones, values, and the people who make the school come alive. You will find pictures of our educators and students spread throughout the space, as well as visual representations of our learning cycle.

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Flexibility - We understand that each child learns differently and that the learning environment plays an important role. There is consideration for different activities -- core skills, small group work and entire class projects. In our classrooms you will find moveable desks and walls, a place for morning meetings, and space for independent work. Over the course of each school year we make changes based on observation of our students as they grow and as discover themselves as learners.

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Community - Experiencing and learning from the local community is an essential part of AltSchool’s educational approach. We reach out to local businesses and resources, and create lessons involving the unique elements of our locations. Students visit local parks or community gardens every day.

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Documentation - Documentation of project work makes a school’s walls come to life. We’ve borrowed amazing projects from our Brooklyn Heights school to incorporate into the space. As the school year starts, we will begin to add new student work to the walls of each classroom.

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Provocations - Adding provocations sparks delight, wonder and engagement in students. In AltSchool East Village there are prisms in the windows and hidden stickers for the students to find.

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A message from our new Head of School, Alex Ragone: “I'm passionate about the idea of bringing student-centered, project based learning to a wider audience through AltSchool's microschool model. AltSchool East Village will be a school where students are empowered to become lifelong learners, critical questioners and solution finders. We will create deeply meaningful learning experiences for children and adolescents while building strong academic skills. We're going to start by getting to know each other, building a school community and exploring the local neighborhood. I can't wait to explore the East Village and the Lower East Side with the children!”

We are currently accepting applications for limited spots at AltSchool East Village for fall 2016.

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Topics: School, Meet the Team, Locations

Teacher Appreciation Week at AltSchool

Posted by The AltSchool Team

May 4, 2016 12:09:51 PM

AltSchool is lucky to work with some of the best teachers in the world. They inspire our entire organization to give our students the best education possible and to create the future of education.

We asked members of different to teams to share their feelings about AltSchool’s teachers and here is what they had to say:

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Want to write a message to your favorite AltSchool teachers? Download the template, write a message or draw a picture, and upload it to social media. Don’t forget to tag @AltSchool and #TeacherAppreciationWeek!

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Topics: School, Meet the Team

Infographic: the magic (and numbers) behind our educators

Posted by Dan Barber

Oct 13, 2015 10:20:00 AM

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Every day, AltSchool educators create meaningful, inspiring experiences that ignite each child’s love and wonder for the world around them. As an AltSchool parent noted, “it’s clear they love what they do.”

Beyond the inspiring intangibles that characterize our educators, we decided to gather information about our educator team as a whole. After all, we love data at AltSchool! We found that, overall, our educators are experienced, diverse, global, empowered, lifelong learners, who contribute to enriching the AltSchool community of students and families. Deeply passionate about their students and the field of education, our educators are the heart and soul of our educational approach.

If you'd like to meet our educators in person, join us for an AltSchool Open House.

Meet Our Educators

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We are flattered to receive thousands of applications for our teaching positions each year. Many of these applicants have both studied and taught at some of the best schools in the world. With a rigorous hiring process, we seek a teacher’s alignment with our approach to technology, personalization, whole-child learning, academic rigor, and hands-on experiential learning. We seek teachers who embrace a growth mindset and an iterative approach to education: who continually seek new ways to engage students as well as reflect on their own practice to improve. Through this hiring process, we can safely say that we’ve hired a truly exceptional group of educators.
 
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We seek educators who are both innovators and masters in their professions — teachers who seek to hone their craft while revolutionizing education. The average years of teaching experience reflects this balance: a majority of AltSchool educators have 6+ years of teaching experience, and over third have 10+ years. For us, this is a perfect mix of new perspectives and collective expertise.

Each of our educators also carry specific specialties, including Reggio Emilia, mindfulness, STEM, and design thinking. Our students and families benefit from nearly 500 years of collective experiences and areas of such expertise. The network-effect of these 500 years is profound, as our teachers continually collaborate and share best practices. Each day, teachers in San Francisco benefit from insights and lessons happening across the country in New York, and vice versa.
 
 
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From Uzbekistan, Italy, Egypt, and Mexico — our educators have collectively taught across 12 countries. Not to mention nearly a quarter are either bilingual, trilingual, or proficient in secondary languages. Global citizenship and cultural appreciation is core to an AltSchool education. Each of our campuses have international teaching experience, which informs the experiences they provoke into each classroom.  
 
 
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Our educators are scholars of their field and lifelong learners themselves. 72% of our educators possess master’s degrees, which is over 30% higher than the national average at private schools.

We also empower our educators to develop professionally. With an annual stipend of $5,000, educators are encouraged to attend educational programming ranging from Harvard certification programs, to the Reggio Emilia conference in Italy, to a global conference on digital literacy. After each professional development experience, educators then come back and share their learnings and takeaways so each benefits from the network’s collective knowledge. As one San Francisco-based AltSchool educator noted, “my learning curve at AltSchool is so much steeper than in any other environment! Just through the sheer quality of my peers, we each collaborate and share what’s the most cutting edge in the field of education.”
 
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AltSchool, diversity includes ethnicity, culture, experience, areas of expertise, pedagogical backgrounds, and more. We have assembled an ethnically diverse team to further foster a conscientious, respectful and enriching environment for our students. Additionally, we’ve created a balance of educators who both represent the local communities in which they teach and bring an outside perspective by moving across the country to join the AltSchool team.
 
 
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Last, we aren’t satisfied with the status quo, and so we actively solicit feedback to improve. We regularly survey our educators and parents to understand and improve their experiences, ranging from school pickup and dropoff, to the quality of their relationships at AltSchool. For teachers, our goal is to ensure they are spending as much time as possible personalizing education for each of their students. For example, educators share any time they are doing repeated tasks that don’t require their unique skills — like coordinating the logistical intricacies of a field trip or moving scores from one spreadsheet to another. We then use this feedback to build better tools to support our students, teachers, and parents so that everyone can focus their time on what matters most: a deeply personalized and quality education.
Above all, we’ve found that our educators are proud and inspired to work at AltSchool. And across all of AltSchool, we agree! We are fortunate to have such talented educators who are inspiring each of our students every day, and who are, as part of AltSchool, defining the future of education at-large.
 
 
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You can download the full infographic above!
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Topics: School, Meet the Team

National Board Certification for Paul France!

Posted by The AltSchool Team

Nov 25, 2014 11:35:00 AM

One of our teachers, Paul France, just became National Board Certified! This is a prestigious honor: just under 3% of the nation’s teachers receive this certification. National Board Certification is an elective process created in the late 1980s. It’s intended to restructure the landscape on which teachers are trained to be in the classroom, helping to elevate the status and quality of the teaching profession long-term. We sat down with Paul to find out more about why he chose to begin this process just a year and a half ago.

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Why did you choose to pursue National Board Certification?

I think teachers are always looking to better their practice, whether they do so formally or through being teacher-researchers each and every day. In order to be an effective educator, one must be reflective, intentional, and focused on student-centered learning. The National Board Certification process instills these sorts of values in their teachers. I wanted to push myself to become a teacher who went beyond the constraints of a traditional system, in order to explore how I could best serve my students and families in an engaging and empathic way.  

I spoke to a few National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) who recently gained certification, and they noted that the process was some of the best professional development they had ever received. It caused them to be critical of their own practice. I saw the type of interactive, exploratory, and emergent teaching they were doing in their classroom, and I wanted to benefit my students in that way, too.

How does becoming a National Board Certified Teacher benefit students?

The National Board Professional Teaching Standards are built off of the Five Core Propositions, the first of which being “Teachers are committed to their students and their learning.” I really like that this standard emphasizes the importance of a knowledge of students. Understanding the whole-child means taking student interest, social emotional needs, assessment data, family dynamics, and other qualities of learners, to create rigorous and engaging learning experiences.  It also emphasizes the importance of including parents in a child’s learning.

The process pushed me to think differently about what rigor and engagement actually mean.  One of the best products that came out of the process was a unit I created on human values.  The goal of the unit was to help students understand human values, human motivation, and conflict. Our guiding question for the unit was, “Why does someone decide to make a change?” and through this unit, we examined human values and conflict in the context of the American Revolution. The idea of values became a unifying concept for the remainder of our school year, allowing each and every student to connect to the curriculum by identifying and discussing their own values, as well as share the values of their families.

Would you recommend this process to another teacher?  Why or why not?

I would certainly recommend the process to other teachers. National Board has well-researched and well-supported sets of standards for almost any teaching discipline, and emphasizes the importance of being an intentional, reflective, and well-rounded teacher. At the core of this, however, is the emphasis on the relationship with and knowledge of the student and how that colors any learning experience. National Board values both the artistry and intentional scientific research that creates the foundation of good teaching.  As teachers, every day we walk into our classrooms as both artists and scientists, and the National Board process helps to nurture the whole-teacher, so that teachers can then nurture the whole-child.

How do the Five Core Propositions translate to your experience at AltSchool?

Teachers at AltSchool value the child above all else. Every teacher within this organization invests a great deal of time and energy into listening to and knowing the students that walk through our doors each day. Once we lay this foundation, we use our knowledge of pedagogy to build the best learning experiences possible for children. It is through these experiences that AltSchool encourages us to be teacher-researchers and teacher-leaders, and to use our fellow colleagues to help us think pragmatically about the curriculum we build with our students. In fact, AltSchool is one of the only schools I’ve seen that truly embodies these Five Core Propositions in a manner that allows students and parents alike to truly partner in the process, and the result is a community committed to high-quality, personalized learning.

Please join everyone at AltSchool to congratulate Paul on this outstanding achievement.

 
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Topics: Meet the Team, InspirED with Paul France

Teacher Spotlight: Paul France

Posted by The AltSchool Team

Jul 17, 2014 3:29:00 PM

IMG_1070(2)We warmly welcome Paul France to the AltSchool community. Paul will be teaching at the upper elementary level starting in the fall of 2014.

Meet Paul

Paul's teaching approach is grounded in the relationships he builds with his students. He believes that a classroom culture grounded in mutual trust allows students to take risks, make mistakes, and ultimately become self-directed and flexible thinkers. Paul taught fourth and fifth grade on the North Shore of Chicago for four years after graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2010. During that time, Paul also earned his master's degree in language and literacy from Roosevelt University in Chicago.

Paul helped lead a 1:1 iPad initiative on the North Shore of Chicago, welcoming upwards of 100 professionals into his classroom throughout the course of the two year pilot. He is adept at crafting and delivering professional development on the Flipped Classroom, using classroom websites in instruction, and integrating technology into interdisciplinary units of instruction. You can learn more about Paul as a teacher and learner through his website.

A Chat with Paul

Tell us about one of your most memorable teaching experiences.

“One of my most memorable teaching experiences was learning about values with my students this year.  The original intent of the unit was to help students understand the multiple perspectives at play in the American Revolution by analyzing the values of key historical figures, while also developing an understanding of how values affect the decisions that all people make each and every day.

"As a part of our unit, we watched Sarah Kay's TED talk, ‘If I should have a daughter...’ where she discusses the importance of writing ‘who you are’ into each of your writing pieces. This portion of our unit was an incredible segue way into learning what vulnerability truly means for writers. Students were able to artfully and creatively communicate their values, each in their own unique way.  We finished this experience with a Poetry Slam, where students, parents, and teachers gathered to listen to each student's poem, and of course, drink some warm hot chocolate in the midst of our cold Chicago winter. I loved this experience because I was able to see just how powerful our words can be, and that when we share parts of ourselves, our community can grow stronger.”

How would a student or a parent describe you?

"My students and their parents would describe me as funny, odd, unique, and enthusiastic.  All of them know my mantra, inspired by my high school drama teacher, Mr. Morton: 'Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.' They know that I love to learn, and that is most likely one of the first things they would say about me.

“Recently, I received a letter from a parent who said, ‘You have gone above and beyond to teach students about the character of a person and how that is most important in life. Your emphasis on 'staying true to yourself' is a life lesson that I hope the kids carry with them through their journey.’  

"Also, when creating our ‘classroom timeline’ at the end of this past year, one of my students posted this Post-it note on our bulletin board:

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What key traits do you hope to instill in your students?

“I hope that all of my students leave our classroom feeling empowered and inspired to continue learning in their own way. I truly believe that learning is one of life's greatest gifts because every lesson we learn gives us a chance to get to know ourselves better.  Learning allows us to collaborate with individuals and find our own identities within the broader context of a community. If my students leave the classroom loving to learn, I know I've done my job.”



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Topics: Meet the Team

Teacher Spotlight: Christie Seyfert

Posted by The AltSchool Team

Jul 11, 2014 11:40:00 AM

ChristieSeyfertWe warmly welcome Christie into the AltSchool community. Christie will be teaching at the middle school level starting this fall.

About Christie

Christie is passionate about helping students understand themselves through exploration and play. She has spent the past two years developing the middle school program at Brightworks, a progressive, project-based school in San Francisco. With an emphasis on using real-world tools, taking frequent excursions, and learning from experts, Brightworks provided Christie with the opportunity to explore her own philosophy as an educator and founding staff member. Before Brightworks, Christie taught seventh grade language arts and social studies for three years as a Teach for America corps member at Joseph George, a low-income public middle school in San Jose. She has also taught summer camp at The Nueva School. 

A Chat with Christie

Tell us about an engaging field trip you took with your students.

“I've been fortunate to have had the freedom to take students on day trips and overnight trips on a moment's notice when a provocation has presented itself...so it's hard to pick a specific example as my favorite.

“One experience that I remember fondly happened on a whim, as I noticed that most of my middle schoolers had no idea how to read a physical map. ‘How hard can it be!?’ they asked.

“I blindfolded them, got them in the car, and dropped them at random spots around the city armed with Google Latitude on their phones, public transport passes, and a physical map of the city. Groups raced back to school using only the maps and their problem-solving skills. It turned into a phenomenal lesson on resourcefulness, deductive reasoning, scale and orientation, with a major social-emotional undercurrent. I love the opportunities that technology, our city, and the world provide for learning."

How would a student describe you?

I asked a few students for help here (with a promise not to edit), and I loved how their responses reflect their unique personalities and approaches:

"I would describe Christie as - Motherly, Fun, Deep, Supportive, and Kind. Also, a think aid. Also fantastic, and in-depth overall." -JP

"Christie has a way of connecting with each student and building trust with them but can still keep it proffessinal. (Se the grate sppeling she toht me)" -Zada

"Christie makes the most monotonous of subjects fascinating with her enthusiasm and wit. She is gifted as an educator and person." -Isaac

What key traits do you hope to instill in your students?

“I most value encouraging students to be and become their true selves. It's such an honor to be part of a person's process of self-discovery. I love learning from my students. In order for students to become authentic, motivated, and productive, I hope to instill skills of self-direction, personal advocacy, creativity, thoughtful and strategic planning, tenacity, pride in success and failure, reflection, fostering of all relationships, and joy.”

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Topics: Meet the Team

Teacher Spotlight: Jaqi Garcia

Posted by The AltSchool Team

Jun 26, 2014 4:43:00 PM

Jaqi_Headshot-1We are honored to welcome Jaqi Garcia to the AltSchool community. Jaqi will be teaching at the upper elementary level starting in the fall of 2014.

Getting to Know Jaqi

Jaqi is an experienced teacher with a strong foundation in social-emotional learning. Most recently, she taught at Brightworks School as a full inclusion facilitator for middle school students. Jaqi has also taught at The Little School as a support educator with neurodiverse children. In addition, Jaqi worked with Sensory Social Playgroups in San Francisco to foster social skills, emotional awareness, and regulation strategies in preschool to elementary children. She has volunteered as an AmeriCorps VISTA coordinator for elementary school literacy programs and worked with the Urban Sprouts school garden program within the juvenile system of San Francisco. She received a B.A. in sociology from San Francisco State University, with an additional concentration in early childhood education, and studied medical massage and nutrition at The American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

A Chat with Jaqi

Tell us about a memorable teaching experience.

One of my most memorable teaching experiences was working with a group of teenage boys in a garden-based education program with Urban Sprouts. I designed an audio storytelling assignment in which student pairs took turns interviewing each other about their family food traditions and cultural relationships to food. They recorded, edited, and shared a range of stories from barbacoa feasts on family ranches in Mexico to recipes of favorite Samoan desserts. They lit up when sharing their stories. They found a lot of common ground despite their diverse backgrounds. Their stories emerged in later discussions about local and conventional industrial food systems as well. Since the project took root in their own interests and family culture, it enriched the possibilities of what foods they were excited about growing, harvesting, and cooking.

What attracted you to AltSchool?

I was attracted to AltSchool because I am inspired by an emergent curriculum that is grounded in developing social-emotional and academic skills. I feel that this is a place that can foster what I value as an educator most: curiosity, excitement, innovation, responsibility, and resourcefulness.  

How would a parent describe you?

Here’s what one parent recently shared about me:

“Jaqi is deeply personable, incredibly intuitive, and attuned with children.”

Parents describe me as caring and engaging. One of the most touching reflections I received was from a parent with a struggling child. I had the honor of working with this student for years within different school environments. I watched him grow emotionally, socially and academically. His mother said that I had given her son the gift of being truly understood and that I helped launched this boy’s life. It continues to inspire my approach and reflect on the impact I might have.  

How would a student describe you?

Students describe me as kind and generous, as well as someone who helps them succeed in more than just academics. Here’s a quote from a former middle school student:

“Jaqi has helped me when I have felt a lot of anxiety.  She knows how to help me feel calm when I have had a hard time focusing in class.”

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Topics: Meet the Team

Teacher Spotlight: Lorie Delizo

Posted by The AltSchool Team

Jun 18, 2014 3:04:00 PM

207U-KIPP-201405-SanFrancisco-01-1254-1We are honored to welcome Lorie to the AltSchool community. Lorie will be teaching at the middle school level next year.

Getting to Know Lorie

Lorie was born and raised in San Francisco. She returned to her hometown to teach after studying biology and completing an M.Ed./Credential program at the University of California in San Diego. Upon moving back, Lorie started her teaching career at KIPP Bayview Academy in the Bayview/Hunters Point district, where she taught mainly eighth grade science. For eight years, Lorie and a team of teacher leaders worked together and with the community to help make KIPP Bayview Academy a California Distinguished School. With almost a decade of science teaching experience and her first cohort of eighth graders about to graduate from college, Lorie is excited to start the next phase of her career as part of the AltSchool team.

A Chat with Lorie

What inspired you to teach?

As a student activist in college, I learned a ton about social justice, inequality, and identity, in addition to being a biology major. By the end of college, I knew that I wanted to do something that would truly have a positive impact on youth of color and their communities, but also involve my background in science. I also knew that I didn’t feel right pursuing medical school or biotech jobs like many of my peers. I came across a teacher education program at UCSD and immediately had a gut feeling that teaching was meant for me. As soon as I got to interact with students, I knew I had made the right decision to become involved in the field of education.

How would one of your students describe you?

My students often describe me as someone who has really high expectations for them, but who also cares a lot about them and believes in them. I also love laughing with students both in and out of the classroom. I’m known for being weird and funny, but always ready to get back to business after a silly moment.

What is a favorite lesson you delivered? 

I love lessons or projects that involve kids building or creating something that is original and completely student-driven. One thing I truly enjoy doing every year is having students build Egg Crash Cars or Mouse Trap Cars after learning about forces and Newton’s Laws. To see students collaborate, apply scientific concepts that they have learned, and do something hands-on to solve a problem is always exciting. The best part is coming together as a class to test out what they’ve designed and built.

What are some of the projects you're interested in creating at AltSchool?

While I am constantly thinking and rethinking about all of the amazing things I want to do at AltSchool, right now I am interested in tying together core concepts in science with some of the pressing environmental issues that society faces today. For instance, I would love to teach atomic structure and chemistry basics in order to have students learn about how society turns Earth’s finite natural resources into synthetic materials. We could then look at some of the problems this causes and engineer possible creative solutions.

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Topics: Meet the Team, Middle School

Teacher Spotlight: Dina Hamaoui

Posted by The AltSchool Team

Jun 11, 2014 4:20:00 PM

photo_dinaWe are pleased to welcome Dina Hamaoui to AltSchool. Dina will be teaching lower elementary at our Fort Mason micro-school.

Meet Dina

Dina has worked with children in both educational and residential settings for ten years. She was a founding teacher at Blue School, a play-based and co-constructivist preschool and elementary school in New York City. She founded the school's studio art program and was lead teacher of the 2s program. Dina lived in New York City for 11 years before relocating to the Bay Area to help Harker School in San Jose open their new preschool campus in Fall 2013. She has an M.P.S. in Arts Therapy and Creative Development from the Pratt Institute and a B.A. in English and Film Studies from U.C. Irvine.

A Chat with Dina

What made you decide to become a teacher? Tell us about your "aha" moment.

“I was studying Art Therapy and Creative Development in grad school and realized the only people I ever wanted to work with were children. Then I arrived at my first job and realized that being an art therapist was only one aspect of my passion. What I really wanted to be was a teacher who understands and values social-emotional learning and creative expression.”  

Tell us about what it's like to be a student in your classroom.

“A child in my classroom is loved, trusted and witnessed. He or she learns to tolerate (and hopefully appreciate) my goofy sense of humor and daily bouts of impromptu singing and joke-telling. Children also help me set the expectations in our classroom. He or she is asked many questions about interests and experiments and is asked to think and wonder about possibilities. Children engage in many hands-on projects in my classroom. They collage with recycled materials, work with nature objects, and use music and art to dig deeper into the kinesthetic experience. “

Share with us a memorable teaching moment.

“One memorable teaching moment was a project started in a 4s class when I was acting as Studio Teacher. The children were interested in boats, and so I disguised myself as a mad scientist character I called "Dr. Frickenfrack" who came in to survey children about what kinds of objects sink and float. From this experiment, we developed a list of acceptable materials that we then used to make boats. In the studio I asked the children to draft and redraft their plans. Then together we created 3-D boats out of these recycled materials.  This project had a multi-lensed approach, including design thinking, science, mathematics, and aesthetics. As a group we decided the only way to really test out if the boats would work would be to take them to the Central Park boat pond and set them off on their journey.  

“This inquiry had a social-emotional angle as well. As the boat project came to completion, some of the children started to ask the question, 'What if I let go of my boat and it doesn't come back to me?' This started a deep and profound conversation about letting things go and moving on, which was poignant at the stage of the year when some families decide to move on from the school, or decide to move away from the city. What some children decided was that they would take pictures of their boats in case they didn’t come back. Others decided to make a tether for their boats (with cords of varying lengths) in order to pull back if their boats went too far. We all trekked to Central Park with parents who came to witness the event. Every boat floated and every single one was retrieved by their maker at the end of the time in the water. It was a great project!”

What do you think is the most exciting thing happening in education today?

“There are so many things that get me excited about education today. I love teaching children about their brains and how they work. I enjoy making and tinkering and taking apart things to help children understand them more deeply. The social emotional learning and character building is very exciting to teach as well. There is a resurgence in visual art and music as essential parts of the human experience and how children understand life. Other things that excite me are the micro-school model, using reflection as a tool for communication, Vivian Paley's ideas about storytelling, the concepts of play-based education, and Sir Ken Robinson.”

 
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Topics: Meet the Team