What is a museum school and what is it like to teach at a time?

In 18 years of teaching, I have worked in a traditional public school, a private school for children with learning disabilities and a Title I charter school. This year, I’ve moved into a system of schools I’ve never heard of before; A member of it National Association of Museum Schools. More than 50 of them are spread across the country, serving all types of students. And when many schools Claim For a fancy approach that sets them apart from pastoralists, I noticed some real differences in my current school. So what is a museum school and what makes it special?

We go on field trips all the time.

Museum schools partner with local institutions to provide children with richer, more engaging learning opportunities. This is great because in practice it means you get a lot of field trips. Or sorry, expedition. My museum school kids do this on average once every few weeks. It’s not always off campus; Many museums have travel exhibits that come directly to our classrooms. Right now, sixth graders are projecting a digital storytelling with local professional theater. One day I came out of the building and saw a horse. It turns out that he was learning about black cowboys in fifth grade… so a black cowboy came to school with his horse.

But we also spend a lot of time on the bus. Only in the eighth grade did Selma go to the sacred ground of the civil rights movement. We are taking our sixth grade students bowling in a few weeks so they can show their skills in statistics. At our K-8 school, there are buses outside more than once a week waiting for the kids to get to different destinations.

Exhibition night is a Big deal.

Once a quarter, we turn the school into a museum. Kids spend Week Working on projects for each class. Young children do things that integrate their learning into all subjects. The trend for middle schoolers is more domain-specific, but many projects have a focus on social justice or community service and, of course, cross-curricular tie-ins. The wall of the nurse’s office is full of hot-glue-burning teachers hanging huge sheets of butcher paper.

Then, at 6 o’clock, the spotlight arrives. The kids come, dress up to impress and toe with their parents, and they become for the exhibits they have worked to create. I will not lie: it Tired. But there is a sense of shared purpose and commitment that is really exciting for the whole school, and the kids create work at a level that I wouldn’t believe if I didn’t see it for myself.

There is an integrated approach to learning and teaching throughout the school.

It’s still weird to me, and I’ve been here almost a year. Our faculty meetings focus almost exclusively Learning. Not a dress code. Not how to keep the kids in the hall quiet. There is no test! We talk about strategies and techniques and activities that teachers are using that are working for different groups of students. The workshop has a huge school-wide focus on model classes and hands-on learning with a focus on educating students each.

Case in point: They let me give you a selective lesson on culinary history that I made up entirely. Each week, we cook a recipe from a different historical period. This is a school where no one will ask if you send emails to all-call staff to beg for funds. We know that this kind of education has the greatest impact on children, and from what I’ve seen, museum schools are committed to putting this into practice.

But can it really work anywhere?

I was hesitant to apply to my museum school because it seemed elite. Of course, lots of adventure and hands-on learning are great, but it sounds like a private school disguised as a charter. After all, field trips and project and problem-based education are all more expensive than traditional schools.

Although my Public Charter Museum School weighs its lottery on economically disadvantaged families, it is still a pretty rich school. We rely heavily on the resources and time that our families are willing and able to give. Parts of the museum model will be difficult to replicate in high-poverty schools… but this is happening all over the country. The average number of museum-school students receiving free and reduced lunches across the country is 55 percent, so it is certainly possible to provide these opportunities to low-income students.

In addition to the support of families within the school, we rely heavily on partnerships with local museums, nature conservation and theaters. There are also many grants available-Choose donors, Anyone? —Who can help. And if we can ever stop investing in computer programs that claim to be suitable for individual students to learn while each bit of research tells us that most kids work more collaboratively and actively than when they are isolated in front of the screen, it will probably free up some funds. .

Even if you can’t change your school, there are ways to make your classroom more “museum model”

Bring as much project- or problem-based learning as possible. Encourage children to work towards a shared goal of learning or to answer a complex question.

Then, allocate Way More time than you normally would for a project. This work gives kids incredibly valuable reflection time to synthesize what they have learned. And it looks like both research and test scores have turned it around.

If you can’t take your kids into the world, bring the world into your classroom. Zoom in with community leaders or performing artists. Access your students’ family talents and knowledge and invite them as guest speakers. Walk into a nearby creek and check for evidence of erosion. It doesn’t have to be expensive – it just has to be fancy and attractive.

And if you want a great way to incorporate museum models into your classroom, be sure to check out National Association of Museum SchoolsWhere you can find lots of amazing resources and information!

Have you heard of museum school before? Thinking of teaching at once? Share the comment!

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