Communication, Co-creation, Celebration

Alzar School | 18.11.20
Student LOWs this week preparing to facilitate community meeting.

Throughout the course of this semester, our student leaders-of-the-week and leaders-of-the-weekend (LOWs) have been working diligently with Alzar School staff to craft an assortment of meaningful experiences for the Semester Seventeen cohort. As we move through week ten of classes, our LOWs are employing lessons learned from their predecessors, as well as from their own prior experiences as designated leaders both on campus and on expeditions. The students have done an impressive job all semester gathering peer feedback, communicating ideas to faculty, and problem-solving collaboratively. This week is no exception as our leaders have crafted a weekly community meeting that highlights three cardinal aspects of the Alzar School experience: communication, co-creation and celebration.

Students practicing communication skills by guiding their mentor through the ice and snow.

Communication at Alzar School manifests in many forms. A consistent example of open and honest communication is student-driven discussion of: pluses, aspects of campus life wherein students are exceeding expectations; checks, components of our community where standards are being met; and deltas, segments of Alzar School life that need attention for improvement. Students and staff share weekly anecdotes and specific steps for improvement with the group, a process that has thus far contributed to worthwhile growth in the Alzar School community. This has often sounded like conversations about self-advocacy, navigating yurt dynamics, and delivering timely feedback to peers.

Co-creation is another essential piece of community at Alzar School. This aspect shows up most in regards to goal setting and weekend activities. This week, students and staff worked together to craft ongoing community norms and best practices for the remainder of the semester. In the era of COVID-19, integrating adolescents into problem-solving processes is one way adults can inspire creativity and provide autonomy in what otherwise might feel like an isolated and stifled setting (“Treat Teenagers as Problem Solving Partners”). Our students are so creative! We are continually impressed with the solutions they bring to the table and are excited to help foster solutions-oriented dialogues.

This week, some solutions students discussed include:

  • designating someone in each yurt to make sure everyone is awake for breakfast
  • speak up to peers about mask-wearing so they hear reminders from folks other than teachers
  • starting evening community tasks at a given time, building accountability for everyone participating in community tasks through consultation with CEAs (Community and Experiential Advisors)
  • reminders to Interact with everyone in the last weeks together to have a full experience with the time left
  • stay healthy by washing hands, being outside and exercising
Students in breakout group problem solving based on the list of pluses, checks and deltas they generated.

And on the topic of celebration – our LOWs are facilitating a “Secret Snowflake” activity this Friday! We are excited to see the students beginning to round out a successful semester by celebrating in such ways in honor of the friendships and deep connections they have made together and will continue to develop into the future. We are hopeful to see students celebrate the opportunities they’ve had to engage in a face-to-face academic setting this year, as well as to rejoice in the personal and communal growth they have demonstrated by overcoming novel challenges.

About the author: Rachel Ackerman is a Science Teacher and a Blog Coordinator at Alzar School. Feel free to contact her at with comments, concerns, and interesting topics for future blog posts!