If you stop by the Inspired Teaching Demonstration School this week, you’ll see early childhood students creating fabric collages, exploring jazz, and building cityscapes. Elementary students will be designing community murals, performing in radio dramas, and practicing mindfulness and yoga. Our middle schoolers will be fixing bikes, organizing a student government program, and filming and editing student documentaries. In addition to familiar ITDS teachers, you’ll also see family members and community volunteers leading groups of students in forty different offerings of projects, lessons, and explorations.
Intersession is a weeklong event that happens twice a year at ITDS. Teachers, family members, and community volunteers brainstorm and present a list of offerings for students. Students then choose their top offerings and are placed into a mixed-grade level group for a portion of each school day. Throughout the process, student engagement and anticipation are high as offerings are announced and students sign up, find out their final assignments, and begin their intersession classes. As many of our students will tell you, Intersession is the best time of the school year.
Since the school’s opening in 2011, Intersession has been a hallmark of ITDS. As a school, we pride ourselves on being a place where both students and teachers have the chance to develop and share their passions. As a founding faculty member of ITDS, I’m currently teaching my 15th Intersession, and it remains one of my favorite parts of the school year. I’ve led sessions on documentary filmmaking, paleontology, student journalism, and improvisational acting. One thing I’ve loved seeing is the passion that Intersession so often ignites. I recently had a third grader excitedly come up to me and tell me how she has taught the improv games she learned in last year’s Intersession to her teachers and classmates to use during morning meeting. I’ve also seen and heard other students enthusiastically share their knowledge of Greek mythology, robotics, gardening, and a multitude of other subjects with their classmates, teachers, and families.
I recently met with a few of our fourth graders to hear their thoughts on Intersession. One student, Hudson shared, “I think Intersession is important for kids because it helps them find their passions.” Hudson was in a knitting Intersession in second grade, and since then he’s knit scarves for his mom and blankets for his dog, including one he is currently working on for Christmas. Another student, Naima, says Intersession is important to our school because “you can collaborate with other people and see how you mix with other grade levels.” One of her favorite Intersessions was cooking. She enjoyed using her creativity to cook many different foods, learning that “some creations don’t need exact measurements.”
This week, we hope our students come away from their Intersession classes full of enthusiasm, passion, and lasting lessons - perhaps even a new talent, skill, or curiosity to pursue over the winter break!