A typical day at The Little Middle School

Each day, students start arriving as early as 8 AM to read, draw, play music, do schoolwork, or socialize.

At 9:00, we begin with music, playing and singing a variety of songs as a group. Students can choose any instrument they like. Instruction is provided on the fly, but students often work together after school to practice. Some kids just watch and listen, and that's okay.

Math begins at 9:30. Students work individually or in small class groupings with the guidance of multiple teachers.

Around 10:20, the end of math is signaled by a song played over the sound system (a different song each day).

We then gather to share our struggles and successes related to the day's math work. What went well? What do you now understand that used to be fuzzy? Are you particularly proud of your work on a certain problem? Where are you getting frustrated? Did you discover any gaps in your knowledge? In this way, we focus on the process of learning math (as opposed to simply right or wrong answers) and demystify what it means to be good at math. 

After Struggles & Successes, students split into three groups for their next series of classes. Students rotate through three classes each day in these small groups (with a break to have lunch at 11:15). Depending on the day, students might have English Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Art, or a block of discretionary time (where they can choose what they want to work on). We also sometimes offer electives like foreign language, engineering, drama, or movement. 

Classes are 45 minutes each and take place at 10:30, 11:45, and 12:30. The groups consist of six to nine students. Groupings are rearranged every so often based on student learning needs.

The time between 1:15 and 1:55 is flexible. Sometimes we do an activity as a group, like a trip to the park or a class discussion. Sometimes, certain students meet as a group or individually with one or more teachers while the rest of the group has discretionary time. Occasionally we have a guest speaker or artist join us. 

At 1:55, we close our day with Peaks, Praises, & Progress. Students and teachers share their peak of the day, praise for someone in our community, or an area in which they made progress. After an announcement or two, the day ends at 2 PM.

Some students leave right away, but others stay until as late as 3:30 PM working with teachers, playing music, socializing, helping to tidy our learning space, or catching up on work. Sometimes, clubs or activities arise, organized by students or a parent.

As you can see, the day is a blend of individualized work with teacher support, small group seminar-style classes, and group activities that promote unity among the whole student body.

Casey von Neumann