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Yoder Charter School Redesign

At the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, we embarked upon our journey to redesign our school. As a school, we decided we wanted our school to have more exploratory time for students to try new activities and learn about career paths. We also wanted to implement new programs to individualize behavior support and learning.

We are a unique school which has challenged us in different ways during this redesign process. Our school has a small staff of 11 people and all of them are included in our redesign team. We are a small school and of half our population is Amish. We found that we could not take on too many changes as each staff member was having to be on several committees. We identified ‘Why’ we wanted to change and ‘How Might We’ achieve it.

Our Why statement is… To support, motivate, and enrich each individual student’s learning experience. And our How Might We statements are… HMW improve engagement and motivation, HMW improve real world opportunities and experiences, and HMW schedule personalized learning time to meet student needs.

One thing we implemented is Zones of Regulation. Although our building doesn’t have drastic behavior needs, we felt we needed a social emotional component that would help any student. Zones of Regulation allows any student to recognize any emotion they are feeling and self regulate if needed. We use four colors to help students identify how they are feeling in the moment given their emotions and level of alertness as well as guide them to strategies to support regulation. By understanding how to notice their body’s signals, detect triggers, read social context and consider how their behavior impacts those around them, students learn improved emotional control, sensory regulation, self-awareness, and problem-solving abilities. We implemented this K-4 and look to scaffold it through the grade levels as the kids progress.

Another thing we started was Tiger Time. This weekly time allows grade levels to intermingle in school families. Students will build relationships with other students in the building. These families will create a unique name, make a family crest, and connect on personal levels throughout the year.

With regards to student choice and personalized learning, we started P.A.W.S. aka Pick A Work-Station. This occurs about four times a quarter and lets students choose from various classes they wouldn’t normally have an opportunity to do. Many of these ‘electives’ introduce a skill or trade students may encounter in their adult life. Students love the exploration and option to choose what they want.

Also, we offer personalized learning with badging. This allows students to choose their ideal way of learning. Badging occurs during PAWS, but we have implemented it our classrooms, too. Students are given opportunities in their classrooms to choose certain ways to learn a specific skill and earn a ‘badge’. One item we are piloting for math is Zearn. This personalized approach has lessons that build from previous knowledge and spiral from accessing learned skills. Students will also find an independent practice and formative assessment activity rolled into one (called the Tower of Power) and a summative exit ticket.