Using an educational model that blends rigorous academic instruction with community-centered project-based learning and liberatory design thinking, the Social Justice School creates an educational space where students across difference engage critically with the world and interrupt systems of inequality toward designing equitable systems with equal outcomes: liberation for all and a non-hierarchical society.
Key Pillars of our Instructional Model
RIGOROUS ACADEMIC INSTRUCTION
The cornerstone of our instructional model is the adoption of standards-aligned curricula that is evidence-based and focuses on problem-solving, application of learning, and the production of high-quality work. We begin with the adoption of Common Core standards and craft instruction that explicitly teaches students the skills needed to become successful graduates, disruptors of inequity, and social change agents. In this learning environment, students are supported to do far more than they think they can. Teachers expect and demand excellence and teach in ways that enable students to learn deeply, surpass standards, grow intellectually and produce high-quality work. Students and teachers model habits of scholarship and character. We provide scaffolds, group students heterogeneously, and explicitly teach vocabulary and background knowledge to ensure that all students can access our curriculum.
Learning Expeditions focused on Social JusticE
Expeditionary learning is an “approach to teaching and learning in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge. These EL projects result in high-quality products or performances for audiences that extend well beyond the classroom.” Learning Expeditions focused on social justice allow an approach to teaching and learning in which students investigate and respond to questions, problems, and challenges that are based on social justice issues of significance to their communities. The sustained, interdisciplinary exploration of a complex problem that is the hallmark of expeditionary learning is an ideal vehicle for understanding social justice, as it allows students to examine real social problems through multiples lenses and develop open-ended solutions that meet the needs of real people.
Liberatory Design Thinking
Design Thinking is a process for creative problem-solving. The liberatory design thinking process ensures that designers reflect on their identity as well as the identity of others when tackling complex problems. In a unique class, students at the Social Justice Schools will focus on problem-based tasks that are centered on local community issues. These will catalyze the designer in all students to engage with complex problems through systems design and collaboration.
Crew, sometimes known as advisory, is a key component of our model. In order to provide support and choice, every Social Justice School family will be paired with an educator who will stay with the family throughout their years at the school. Students who share the same Crew Leader will be part of a “crew.” This partnership will ensure that in our school, every student is known.