This week hundreds of educators from around the country descended upon Tucson to participate in the School Reform Initiative‘s annual ‘Winter Meeting’ hosted this year in Tucson by City High School, PFFS-Downtown, and PFFS-University. On Friday during the ‘Learning Experiences’ portion of the Winter Meeting, some of these national participants spent the morning at PFFS-Downtown observing classrooms using a protocol designed to focus their observations on the ‘dominant dynamic’ as well as interesting moments in the teaching and learning. When the observations were completed PFFS-D principal JoAnn Groh facilitated a conversation with the SRI visitors about their observations and reflections. After this powerful debrief portion of the protocol the visitors participated in a Q/A session with PFFS-D staff about the school in general and about its very innovative academic programming.
Paulo Freire Freedom School – Downtown was opened this year as a replication of the very successful Paulo Freire Freedom School – University (opened in 2005). PFFS-D has the same vision and mission and the same academic goals as PFFS-U, however PFFS-D has created very unique programming to carry forward this vision and goals. The AM block of time at PFFS-D is called ‘Learning in Community’ and it is designed to be one contiguous block of project-based, interdisciplinary learning across the entire school year. This kind of teaching and learning is unique nationally and this is what the SRI ‘Winter Meeting’ participants came to observe. Both PFFS-D and PFFS-U are designed to be demonstration sites/lab schools for best teaching practices and small school design.