You don't know if SLA is a transformative school? It certainly is by your definition. As I read through that list of bullets, the school that embodies each of those characteristics the most, at least in my mind, is the one in which you work every day. Don't sell yourself short. You're doing great things. And while most of us know SLA isn't perfect, it's an inspiring model.
There's this characteristic of schools that "get it." I don't know how exactly to describe it, but it's that feeling you get when you walk in to the school that the students own it. This is their school. Sometimes they let the adults come along for the ride. When that happens, the students and teachers and parent volunteers and alumni all become part of the same community. There are community norms and responsibilities. There's that sense of ubuntu -- I am part of my community, and it is part of me. Neither would be the same without the other -- that permeates the culture.
So there's this sense that everyone's working toward the same goal. You can be purposeful and intentional. You can reflect. You can do inquiry without worrying so much about what's going to be on the test. You can get away with only having three rules, all of which are really "you are part of this community, please act like it."
My daughter goes to a school like that, but there aren't nearly enough of them.
Thought provoking piece, Chris. I think these are precisely the sort of conversations we need to be having about schools, learning, and communities.
You might be interested in this transformational change model developed by QED Foundation. They target many of the areas you address in your piece. My guess is that SLA falls under the Transformational column in a number of ways. http://www.qedfoundation.org/images/stories/transfmodel.jpg
I look forward to the next post on the topic. Cheers.
How you describe a "Transformative School" is exactly what I'm trying to organize in my kids public school in upstate New York. Do you know of any schools that are similar to SLA in the New York area? I'm trying to find "Bright Spots" similar to SLA that I can model after.