Polaris

Expeditionary Learning School

Expeditionary Learning Core Practices

Core Practices

Our core practices address five key dimensions of life in school.

Real World Curriculum: Our approach to curriculum makes standards come alive for students by connecting learning to real-world issues and needs. Academically rigorous, project-based learning expeditions, case studies, projects, fieldwork, and service learning inspire students to think and work as professionals, contributing high-quality work to authentic audiences beyond the classroom. Our schools ensure that all students have access to a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, and regularly analyze that curriculum to align with those standards. 

Invigorating Instruction:  Our classrooms are alive with discovery, inquiry, critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration. Teachers talk less. Students talk (and think) more. Lessons have explicit purpose, guided by learning targets for which students take ownership and responsibility. Student engagement strategies and activities serve to differentiate instruction and maintain high expectations to bring out the best in all students, cultivating a culture of high achievement.

Respectful Culture:  Our schools build cultures of respect, responsibility, courage, and kindness, where students and adults are committed to quality work and citizenship. School structures and traditions such as crew, community meetings, exhibitions of student work, and service learning ensure that every student is known and cared for, that student leadership is nurtured, and that contributions to the school and world are celebrated. Students and staff are supported to do better work and be better people than they thought possible.

Assessing Student Learning: Our leaders, teachers, and students embrace the concept of student-engaged assessment in education. Why? Because it builds student ownership of learning, drives achievement, and focuses students on reaching standards-based learning targets. Students continually conduct learning assessments and improve the quality of their work through models, reflection, critique, rubrics, and expert assistance. And staff members conduct ongoing data inquiry and analysis, examining factors including student work and results of formal educational assessments. Using this approach, we promote educational equity across all schools.

Leadership: Our school leaders build a cohesive school vision focused on student achievement and continuous improvement. And they align all school activities with that vision. Leaders use data wisely, boldly shape school structures to best meet student needs, celebrate joy in learning, and build a school-wide culture of trust and collaboration. Leadership in our schools goes beyond a single person or team; it’s a role and expectation for all.