(Read part I of this post here.)
In my quest to become a different kind of educator and to find joy and satisfaction in teaching again, I spent the 2012-2013 school year teaching at the Free School in Albany, NY. Founded in 1969, the Free School is the epitome of a school that really values the voices of students in directing their own learning. Without grades or required classes, each student at the Free School pursues an individualized course of learning based on their own interests and following their own trajectory of development. Students take ownership of their learning and can request classes and activities on the subjects and topics they are most excited about. Learning math, for example, can take the form of a small-group class, an independent study guided by a teacher, an impromptu lesson in fractions while doubling a cake recipe in the kitchen, or a group of peers getting together to practice arithmetic.