Who are you guys?
We are a group of educators who have taught in a variety of places and situations. We love what we do, we love the kids we teach, and we recognize that everyone is trying to do the best with what we have. That being said, we want more. We want more for our kids, for our teachers, for our communities, and believe that change is possible when everyone comes together behind a common goal.
What is the cost of implementing the Fuller Model?
As we mentioned in other sections, the goal of the Fuller Model is to work within the resources and limitations of each individual school. The majority of resources are dedicated to training and supporting teachers and leaders to teach and inspire their students, problem-solve, and build community relationships.
What Academies should a school have?
That is completely dependent upon the school community. The point of the academies is to give students a venue for learning that inspires them and that they can connect with. This means that there is no “required” academy. While some schools opt for more “traditional” academies (i.e. STEM, Fine Arts, Agricultural Science, Law and Justice, etc.) others opt for more “conceptual” academies (i.e. Space and Time; Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Mythology; Sports Medicine, etc.). The process of identifying academies is based upon many factors, including student interest, teacher expertise, and community resources, meaning that the academies should reflect the unique identity of the school.
Won’t students just mess around during Student-Directed Learning?
Don’t worry, we’ve addressed this question many times and understand the concern. However, our experience is that once we start to honor our students’ interests, provide a framework for them to work within, and then demonstrate trust in their ability to set and accomplish goals, they not only stay focused and productive, they exceed our (and their) expectations. Instead of trying to make students want to be at school, we make the school a place students want to be. It takes time and work, but once student-directed learning is in place amazing things happen.
What about test scores?
Testing is an interesting and complex subject, and one that many people feel very strongly about regardless of what side they are on. While we believe that the definition of what counts as “testing” is much too narrow, the Fuller Model is a data-based model. In other words, we are constantly assessing where our students are, using the data to inform and direct instruction. Students who learn using this model have a depth and breadth of knowledge that makes testing a non-issue—the testing tends to take care of itself. Teachers working in this model assess their students in innovative, varied, and meaningful ways, while helping students learn to assess their own progress and adjust accordingly. More importantly, they learn better, faster, are supported in long-term retention, and use their knowledge to produce and contribute.
What about getting into college?
We are encouraged by the changes we see in college admissions moving away from standardized GPA’s or test scores that do not communicate a clear picture of our students. As these changes continue, we see the Fuller Model as creating the kinds of students that colleges and universities, as well as employers, really want. Students leaving these programs are prepared to look around, identify problems, make the world work, empathize, think creatively, work collaboratively, and strive for excellence. In addition, teachers and school administrators are dedicated to ensuring that students are able to communicate with potential colleges and universities as well as employers in ways that demonstrate their abilities and passions.
What happens if an academy or program no longer fits our school?
Change it! It is that simple, though that does not necessarily mean it will be easy. The Fuller Model encourages a “living document” mentality—nothing is ever a given. Every philosophy, vision, goal, academy, structure, program, etc., should be revisited often. This not only ensures that we avoid the “this is how we’ve always done things” trap, but also allows newcomers to understand and contribute, helping them feel connected. This means difficult discussions, decisions, and situations to deal with. The result, however, is a more solid, responsive, adaptable system that students, teachers, and communities can trust.
Why is it called the Fuller model?
As English teachers, we love a good, clean double entendre (not the suggestive kind). Many of the ideas in the Fuller model were inspired by a scientist and thinker named Buckminster Fuller. While we don’t espouse all of his ideas, his vision and ability to see potential in everyone inspired many of our discussions. The use of his name in the context of creating a richer, deeper, fuller experience for our students creates the kind of layered meaning that our model provides for students.