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09 Lesson 3 Ms Jones

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A school with no subjects

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Sudbury Valley school

The original Sudbury Valley school is situated in the American state of Massachusetts. It is not like a traditional school because there are no classrooms and no classes. There are no subjects, either! Students can do anything they want during their school hours. Some children learn, some play, and some talk to their teachers. However, they are not lazy. They love to work on projects that they choose for themselves.

One student says, “Every day we have a challenge and work on it as a group. We usually pick hard things. There are always older kids who can help us. You want to be one of the people who can do something new. It is always – take one step more!”

Students can also choose their teachers. Every year in the spring they have a secret vote – they write yes or no on a piece of paper for every teacher. Teachers with more yes papers can stay in school next year.

Today, there are over fifty similar schools in many countries such as Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan and Switzerland. Is there one in your country?

Questions:

  • What are your favourite things to do in school?
  • Do you usually work in groups or alone? Do you like to work alone or in a group?
  • Write three things you want your school to have, which it does not have now.
  • What should a teacher be like for you to vote yes?
  • There are no tests in Sudbury Valley school. How is this good and how can it be a bad thing?
  • What school do you think is better – your school or Sudbury Valley school? Why?

A school interview

My name is Kayla and I will interview a person working in my school. Can you guess who he is?

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Kayla: Hello, Mr Roberts, and thank you for seeing me today.

Mr Roberts: Hi, Kayla. It’s not a problem. What is your first question?

Kayla: Do you like your job?

Mr Roberts: Oh, yes, it is very interesting and responsible.

Kayla: When do you come to school and when do you leave?

Mr Roberts: Actually, I am one of the first people to come to school, around 7 am, and one of the last to leave, around 5 or 6 pm.

Kayla: What do you to every day?

Mr Roberts: I spend a lot of time in my office, answering e-mails and having meetings. I also decide what to do with school finances. Sometimes, I even go out to check if the cars are properly parked.

Kayla: Which part of your job do you like best?

Mr Roberts: When I talk to students who come to my office. I also like working with teachers and parents.  

Kayla: Thank you, Mr Roberts

Mr Roberts: Thank you, Kayla.

Questions

  • Who is Mr Roberts – a teacher, a secretary, a principal or a member of the cleaning staff?
  • Does he work short or long hours?
  • Which of his duties do you think are most difficult? Which are easy?
  • Would you like to do this job? Why (not)?
  • Do you know the person who does this job in your school?
  • What is he/ she like?
  • Does he/ she also have a lot of responsibilities?
  • Can you interview him/ her?

The best teacher

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Today my Math teacher got the Best Teacher Award for this school year. MsJohnson is young, but she is the greatest teacher ever. Here is what it says on her Best Teacher Diploma:

Best at giving knowledge – I don’t know why, but when Ms Johnson explains something, I can always remember it. She knows how to make Maths interesting and simple.

Best at making jokes – Ms Johnson always comes to the class with a joke. She often goes to stand-up comedy evenings and learns new ones.

Best at being kind – Ms Johnson never shouts. Her voice is calm, and she always has a nice word for everyone. Also, she sometimes helps students who do not have money for school lunches. (She doesn’t want us to know this!)

Best at listening – Ms Johnson listens to all her students and helps them with hard as well as with easy tasks. She is never too busy to stop and hear what we have to say.

Best at learning – Although she is a Math teacher, Ms Johnson always learns new things. This year, she is going to an art class. She says she isn’t very good, but at least she is trying!

Imagine you want to give one of your teachers a Best Teacher Diploma. Who would get it? What would it say? Why is this teacher so good? What is she/ he like? What does she/ he do?