Natural light streams into the lobby at the center of Crossroads. It’s one of my favorite places to observe our students. They appreciate, and know how to use, the unstructured times in our schedule. We include these unstructured times intentionally. Not only does the brain benefit from the laughter, conversation, and relationship building that occurs, our students also benefit from individual and group learning of their own design.
At more boisterous times — after announcements, during lunch, during community time, and after school — students circle up in the lobby and enjoy their time together. The circle widens as others join or breaks off into smaller, tighter circles as topics shift and conversations change or intensify.
Juniors and seniors have study blocks in their schedules to do homework, study, review, and practice. Sometimes, students sit one or two at a table, books and notebooks and computers spread out in front of them. There are furrowed brows, an occasional fidget, and an unmistakable intensity. I admire their discipline and focus.
Sometimes, students study in groups, perhaps with their teacher present to prompt, explain again, or encourage. There is a social component to learning, and watching these dynamic groups form around common assignments, questions, or a common need to get something done is fascinating. The combination of student, subject matter, and level of conversation adjusts to the purpose of their work during this time.
These experiences in the lobby — time together to laugh and to study — deepen student engagement with learning and community. They build an interconnectedness from which all of us benefit. At Crossroads, we stimulate this through the rigor and vigor of our program, with the support of our teachers, and by demonstrating our trust that our students can lead themselves and one another.