Minimester: Taking Time, Taking Risks

Providing Unique Learning Experiences

This coming February, our High School students’ regular day-to-day schedule will be put on a brief hold, and everyone will experience their first Minimester—an exciting, innovative, and fun opportunity to think about teaching and learning through a new lens at GDS. Minimester will be a two-day deep dive into one topic, without the confines of traditional schooling (schedules, assessments, etc.). GDS has a rich foundation of excellent teaching and robust curriculum; Minimester will afford educators the gift of thinking outside the box, outside our content area, and outside the confines of our schedule in order to develop two days of different, meaningful discovery for our students.

I have already learned in my short time here that GDS students are deep thinkers, whose ability and desire to engage with a variety of topics is profound. I have also learned that the faculty at the High School is one of the best I have ever had the privilege to work with in any school. They are intelligent, passionate, and deeply committed to their work with our students. Put these two groups together and school is likely to be amazing already. With an opportunity like Minimester, I am positive that it is going to be an extraordinary experience for all.

Teachers have spent the last few weeks creating course proposals on a diverse range of topics that truly speak to our inclusive and intelligent community. Just a few of the incredible offerings include “Unplugged in the Wilderness,” “Let’s Talk about Sex,” “Hamilton vs. Jefferson: The Great Throwdown,” and “Were You Born a Racist? The Neuroscience of Implicit Bias.” Check out the entire course catalog »

I am truly looking forward to experiencing what it will feel like to spend these two days doing school differently. Being a part of such a great school community, we have the privilege of serving as leaders in the field of education. There is so much research about the need for schools to evolve from the structure that was established during the Industrial Age into one that is more aligned with the skill sets we predict will be needed to navigate the job market in the future (See our GDS Student Will skill sets.). Yet, many schools struggle with how to set up the school day/year and how to use time, space, and teachers to achieve the results they want.

While Minimester will take place over two short days only, this addition to our school year schedule allows the faculty to spend time thinking about ways of teaching content and engaging our students that are not bound by the traditional daily schedules, teaching methods, and grading. It will also give us real experience with what it is like to teach and learn in a format that is different from what we are used to. This is a perfect example of some of the risk-taking we want our students to be confident in when approaching their own learning. Yet, as the adults in their lives, we don’t frequently model this for them. I am proud that the faculty is jumping into this endeavor with their hearts and minds open, and look forward to learning together along the way.

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