Demonstration of Learning – A Process of Reflection

Alzar School | 13.05.21

As students head into the final weeks of their Alzar School semester, they are experiencing a wave of emotions. Academic stress is mounting as they tackle AP (Advanced Placement) exams and begin studying for finals. Excitement is brewing for their final expedition of backpacking amidst the spring flowers of Idaho’s mountains. And undercurrents of sadness ripple through the community as students contemplate leaving their peers and returning home at the end of the semester.

Staff work hard to help students prepare for and cope with the wide range of feelings they will and are encountering. One way in which students are able to start processing their Alzar School experience is through their final English class project: the Demonstration of Learning essay, or DOL. 

English teacher, John Bengston, explains to students that “this essay is supposed to actively shape what you want to take away from this experience at Alzar School.” Students are encouraged to examine and reflect on both their actual experiences over the past four months and to think critically about their understanding of those experiences. In doing so, students identify what they have learned at Alzar School,  and how they learned it. 

John teaching on expedition

Here is a snapshot of some of the themes students are constructing their DOL essays around:

“Alzar [School] has given me a strong sense of self to allow me to connect with people, places, and things.” – Ellie

“We are always changing as people. Buy into change. Be in the moment. You will get more out of the experience if you embrace it” – Braden

“Being a follower is often just as important as being the leader. I’ve learned to deal with certain situations, to go with the flow and to be resilient.” – Teo

“Everyone here is mosaics made up of everyone else. Everyone here has helped shape me.” – Maeve 

“Becoming a thriving and independent individual is a learned practice. It is one of the most important parts of being a leader. Without it, you will be stressed, disorganized and won’t enjoy life as much.” – Cam

With the end of the semester in sight, students are beginning to process their Alzar School experience. Many are leaning into the friendships they have made, working to stay present and soak up the remaining time in the semester. They are also deeply reflecting on the things they have learned and the ways in which they have grown at Alzar School in their Demonstration of Learning essays. Next week, students will present their essays in front of the community and their peers as part of their English final. We look forward to hearing all of their reflections and celebrating the growth of each and every one of Semester Eighteen’s young leaders.

Semester 18 students