The staff from both PFFS-University and PFFS-Downtown opened their two-day retreat together Thursday 7/24/14 with the driving question: “What kind of community do we want to build and how do we build it?” We then launched right into the ‘Marshmallow Challenge’ where three teams with four staff members each tried to build the tallest tower they could in 18 minutes with 20 raw spaghetti noodles, a yard of string, a yard of tape, and a marshmallow on top (video/pictures from the challenge below). Great conversations about the ‘how’ of our driving question ensued during the challenge debrief and throughout the day.
The careful co-construction with students of our school culture, classroom culture and of course advisory (the heart of our learning community) has always been an integral part of work together. In our very first year, PFFS students and staff made the following commitment which has guided our community ever since:
“Whereas Paulo Freire Freedom School is a community of learners (adults and students alike);
Whereas we value together participation and responsibility; compassion and caring, respect and fairness, passion and courage;
Whereas we want Paulo Freire Freedom School to be a safe place to learn and grow;
Therefore we resolve together to be a community that demonstrates these values in everything we do;
And if any one of us, or any group of us fall short of these values, we resolve to work together to restore the community.”
The remainder of the retreat has been devoted to an overview of ‘Project-Based Learning’ – Paulo Freire Freedom School’s primary instructional model – provided by JoAnn Groh. JoAnn, co-director of PFFS, is also a member of Buck Institute for Education‘s National Faculty. BIE is the premier educational organization providing support and resources for project-based learning.