Guides & Teams
Guides vs. Teachers
When Ridge and Valley Charter School first opened, the staff intentionally chose to call themselves “guides” to represent the collaborative relationship that they wanted to promote with the students. Based on our beliefs about children and learning, this title is indicative of the role that the adult staff play as they support the development and emergence of each child’s individuality and facilitate student-led learning.
Student Teams, Multi-Age Structure & Curriculum Loops
Humans are complex, multi-faceted beings who, regardless of their age and at any given moment in time, can be in many different places on the developmental spectrum – socially, emotionally, physically, academically and spiritually. The organization of children in traditional school settings into groups based only on their physical age assumes two things: that children develop at the same rate, and that learning is a linear sequence of steps to be achieved within a prescribed timeframe to reach an externally defined ‘norm’. In reality, humans develop at different rates along a continuum even within different aspects of their lives. Choosing to create flexible, multi-age groupings, as we do at RVCS, facilitates learning in a more individualized, holistic manner. Taking time to nurture the individual and group relationships and dynamics within the class groups and school community allows for a more familial experience as well as a natural, enthusiastic unfolding of each person‘s gifts.
Our children spend a large portion of their time in learning groups or teams, based broadly upon general, holistic understandings of child development, that span across multiple years of age: Stardust (4-7 year olds); Nova (6-9 year olds); Constellation (8-11 year olds); and Galaxy (10-14 year olds). Each team is comprised of a group of students and multiple adults called Guides (the term used to differentiate the role from one of direction to one of collaborative learning). Each team has the flexibility to not only create multiple, changing groupings from within the team, but also to arrange with other teams to allow for an even greater variety of ages and abilities. These arrangements celebrate diversity, create multiple opportunities for mentoring and being mentored, support various needs and interests and more closely mimic real-world groups and experiences. Our choice to organize ourselves in this way directly supports our move towards a more systemic and holistic view of the world and the humans in it.
In order to support this type of arrangement our curriculum is organized into 2-3 year loops. Each loop has an overarching, integrating lens through which all content is experienced. All students within a team focus on the same lens within the same year and will have experienced all loops within a 2-3 year timeframe, although in a different order based upon when they enter the team.
Staff hold various responsibilities and roles, including the following titles:
- Certificated Classroom Guides – includes Stardust, Nova, Constellation and Galaxy Guides
- Support Guides – work across the school with multiple teams, as needed
- Administrative Support Guide – member of Nebula Team
- Health Coordinator – member of Nebula Team
- Child Study Team Coordinator – member of Nebula Team
- Business, Technology & Testing Coordinator – member of Nebula Team
- Leadership Team Members – includes Curriculum Coordinator and Integration Guide (members of Nebula Team)
- Consultants – includes Speech & Language Therapist, Occupational Therapist (members of Child Study Team)