And Learn How to Thrive in the Most Uncomfortable Situations
Our approach is centered around three design principles – academics, character, and adventure. Engaging academics and real-world adventures empower students to reach their full potential by cultivating intellectual growth, character, and confidence. We focus on fun and engaging problem solving challenges that extend the definition of a classroom out to the real world. It’s much, much more than occasional field trips.. Our Middle School students spend 30+ days actively engaging with experts on incredible projects and adventures that challenge them in unexpected ways. Throughout these real-world adventures, we intentionally create and engage with adverse situations to grow our student’s comfort zones. We call it Constructive Adversity, and it’s what sets our school apart from others.
Note that our Middle School Program spans 6th through 8th-Grades. Students in 6th-Grade at TEA are part of our “Bridge Program” that is specially designed to meet the needs of students entering Middle and High School programs. To learn more about our 6th-Grade Bridge Program, CLICK HERE.
Our core subject areas include English Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Students learn core academics and the arts through multidisciplinary projects to gain a deep understanding of the subject matter. In this respect, we teach both breadth and depth – breadth in the sense that students learn a wide range of content and skills and depth because they regularly have the opportunity to apply the learning in real-world contexts. Our students spend significant time learning reading, writing, and math. We address the same Common Core Language Arts and Math standards, Next Generation Science standards and National Council for Social Science standards that other schools address.
Character development, service learning and leadership training are important elements for academic achievement, social emotional learning and ethical development. At TEA, “We are crew, not passengers,” and each student is a member of a crew. In these small, supportive groups, each student is known well and engages in the proactive cultivation of character and leadership. We help students nurture character values and practice meeting adversity head on so our graduates have the courage and intestinal fortitude to “survive and thrive” when things get tough.
Adventure is an integral component of our program and we have intentionally created more regularity, accessibility and intensity of our students’ adventures inside and outside the classroom. We spend one third of our time in the field working with experts and engaging firsthand. Both in the classroom and on field studies, teachers serve as mentors and guides; challenging, supporting, and inspiring. Moreover, our talented faculty encourage students to take calculated risks, produce quality work and realize their potential as scholars.
Real-World Learning Drives Our Curriculum - "Be A Movement Maker" Example
Real-world learning is a core component of our academic program. Application of core content come alive for students, with kick-off and culminating experiences, compelling topics, guiding questions, learning targets (based on state and national standards), hands-on fieldwork, experts, local case studies, service learning and authentic products.
Our Middle School “Be a Movement Maker” Real-World Project is about moving society, and in many ways, it’s as much about young people emerging into the world and finding their voices as it is about challenging retrogressive social norms. During the study, students engage in authentic fieldwork in the Bay Area, conducting climate change research, honing their craft, and studying the complex work of professional scientists, poets, and social justice advocates. Their final product, a Youth TEDx presentation focused on issues of climate change, integrate all of their learnings and then present them before a community audience. In this work, students use their knowledge to deliver a powerful oratorical piece that is as informed by the spirit of movement makers as it is by the indisputable facts of science.
Through the “Be a Movement Maker” Real World Project, Luke was inspired after learning more about climate change. When he found out the cost of the greenhouse was $5,000 he felt there had to be a better way. “And that’s why I invented the Hexadome. The Hexadome cuts down on global emissions from long distance food transportation that litters about 31 percent of our total carbon footprint production.”
What Sets TEA Apart
Every day begins with a crew meeting. This is a way to make every student feel included, to greet one another and to center themselves in the learning environment, to resolve any social issues, to address any concerns and to come together as a community.
We integrate real-world learning into a larger curriculum units. By traveling into the natural world as well as to regional, national and international communities and locales, students are able to extend and apply their learning in authentic ways and to engage in realistic, hands-on learning experiences. Equally important, our students are able to expand their scope of understanding about the world around them and truly develop and grow as global citizens by meeting with experts and professionals in the field.
Beyond the classroom walls, students engage in acts of service, locally, nationally and globally. During field studies, they collaborate with local organizations, engage with relevant experts and contribute to their community through entrepreneurship and volunteerism. By giving and intentionally directing their efforts, intellect and resources to where it can benefit the greater good, students become active citizens in their communities.
These are mixed age classes focusing on life skills such as photography, filmmaking, dancing, ceramics, and stewardship. Students choose their intensive in the beginning of each semester and enjoy mixing up the social dynamic through deep exploration of topics.