La Tierra Community School is a free, public charter school that puts students at the center of everything we do. Our desire for a student-centered school, with expeditionary learning as a major component, was a primary reason for the founding LTCS. Every one of our staff and teachers is passionate about putting students first.
What does “student-centered” learning mean? It means that the student is actively engaged in determining how and what they learn. It does not mean that students run the classroom, but it does mean that every teacher collaborates with each one of their students to create a pathway for that student to learn in the most effective way possible. Small schools like LTCS, with engaged teachers, students, and families, can make student-centered learning happen!
Curiosity Out In Front
LTCS students are asked where their interests lie, and what they want to learn more about in the framework of our expeditions. In our youngest students, teachers may observe where the student naturally gravitates in the unit of study in order to determine possible directions that learning can go. Whether the student explicitly expresses their interest, or it’s deduced another way, the LTCS teachers respect those interests and curate lessons around a thematic unit accordingly.
Learning Styles Matter
Students at LTCS are also given choices about how they want to learn. Learning styles are taken into consideration, and expeditionary learning is always part of the package, but it’s empowering for students to comprehend how they learn best, auditory or visual or experiential, and build that into their learning pathway.
When families and teachers meet for conferences, it’s the students who lead the conference. They are guided by a common set of topics, but are responsible for initiating the conversation and discussing what’s happening at school, in their thematic unit, and with their own personal learning pathway. The way they guide these conversations is often eye-opening to families and gratifying to the students!
Students are responsible for their own learning in the project-based thematic units of study that span the year and take them outside for field work in the community. They work towards their portfolio presentation all year, having envisioned what it would look like from the beginning of the year. They weave together their studies and expeditionary learning into a presentation about the thematic unit, and present it to the school community. Having a say in what they study and present is empowering, confidence-building, and rewarding for the students. No two portfolio presentations are alike, because no path of study was the same for any two students.
And in the end, that’s the ultimate goal of student-centered learning – that each student can let their curiosity lead them along the path of learning, and that we respect it and support it at LTCS.
About La Tierra Community School
At La Tierra Community School, teachers, parents, staff, and students work together to create a school culture of collaboration, respect, and high expectations. Through our expeditionary learning-inspired approach, trust, respect, responsibility, and joy in learning permeate our community and our students know they can impact their world. Enrolling K-7 in Prescott, today!