Greetings Prospective Guides!
Being a Guide at the Kansas City Restoration School is a creative challenge.
We are building the future of schooling, now. Which means guides are leading the way to anti-racist, restorative, empowering learning innovations. We want all staff to be people first, and active members of the democratic community. However, KCRS is a school, with learning studios and laboratories (rather than classrooms) and Guides (rather than traditional teachers).
The Big Picture
The Kansas City Restoration School (KCRS) offers a healing-centered approach to self-directed, lifelong learning. We are a dynamic participatory democracy and our school’s governance has decentralized leadership through our School Meeting Circle. All staff and students are School Meeting Circle Members and the School Meeting Chair is an elected student. KCRS has a Restorative Circle (RC) Process and all students serve, on rotation, as an RC witness or peer mediator.
Guides serve as mentors in RC with the intention to interactively model the process and orient students to take the lead. The staff body includes a diverse and multicultural team of collaborators each hired on one-year terms and are reaffirmed in their position during an annual spring school meeting.
Guiding Staff: 10+ years of experience in guiding the learning of others
Apprentice Guiding Staff: 5 or fewer years of experience in guiding the learning of others
Mentor Staff: 1 or fewer years of experience in guiding the learning others, but has demonstrable experience as a lifelong learner. Exhibits complimentary relevant skills that are needed in the day to day operations of the KC Restoration School.
The Board of Directors functions as the "watchdog" of the organization; setting policy and monitoring the "ends we seek". The Board of Directors only steps in when the SMC requests assistance or it has become clear that a policy has been breached.
The KCRS Model has a wide range of embedded learning opportunities found in the day to day operations of the school. Beyond the foundational agreements of participation, there is no “curricular coercion” and students are free to design and develop their own unique learning journey. Our young people will develop a close relationship with you as a guide and mentor, and since classes are very small, your influence can be much greater than in a traditional school environment.
Our Organizational Culture
All staff at KCRS comprise a unique ensemble of lifelong learners, a community of practice. Some come with certifications in education and others bring a resume that embodies their interdisciplinary expertise and skills.
All staff engage in training, practicing and modeling the following core competencies:
1. Anti-racism is the essential practice of our time and must be rooted in policy and a commitment to having hard conversations, reflecting upon complex and multi-faceted perspectives and always working to innovate an equitable and culturally responsive learning environment. In short, we are decentering white norms, we are intentional about noticing and naming white supremacy, and we seek to learn from and with a representative multi-cultural community. This work starts within each individual staff member and is an ongoing non-negotiable for realizing the mission of our school.
2. Trauma-Informed Resilience Culture is at its essence a healing centered approach to learning. With policy and practice beyond typical “Trauma Informed Care”, we practice mindfulness, SEL, creative problem-solving and brain-based coregulation; all for the purposes of restoration. Our Restorative Circle has several key practices: mindful listening, noticing: ourselves (body awareness), others (presence) and shared patterns (resonance/ dissonance), asking honest open questions, gratitude and intention setting.
3. Leadership as interactive modeling is well articulated in Brené Brown’s book Dare to Lead, this will be our shared text and workbook for establishing and protecting our organizational culture.
4. Direct Democracy aka Participatory Democracy levels the playing field and eliminates power differentials by giving all staff and students a voice and a vote. We protect our community from “the tyranny of the majority” through the practice of Sociocracy: Democratic Governing by Consent.
5. Design Thinking is employed throughout our school as a core methodology for solving complex problems with innovative solutions that center the voices of those most impacted.
The Role of a Guide
Guides are both teacher and student, in fact our youth are both teacher and student.
Guides are positioned within the staff body as a co-equal collective of leaders, an ensemble administration in a self-directed worker non-profit. Guides have a unique opportunity to design their own contribution to culturally valued, appropriate, responsive learning engagements.
Joining our team is sure to be a personal and professional growth opportunity.
Children do not have to come to lessons, but as a Guide, your responsibility is to deliver culturally mediated instruction, meaning you thoughtfully engage our students' home culture and personal passions. As a Guide, you will learn and collaborate with children who wish to attend your lessons, remain positive towards those who do not, and be encouraging with students who wish to begin learning. Showing enthusiasm for your subject is a natural part of being you and is encouraged.
It is important that the children know that you value play and formal educational activities equally as expressions of lifelong learning. No preference one way or another is to be made or implied by you. Any preference is up to the child to make. It is important for children to know that you value their attendance and enjoy teaching and learning but will not feel upset or in any way annoyed should they miss a lesson or choose not to continue with your subject.
Humour can be an important element in the learning environment, and a relaxed and friendly approach is best. This does not mean, however, that lessons cannot be precise and well organized! There is nothing wrong with students knowing that some lesson work outside of class may be helpful to them but your lessons should not be dependent upon the completion of homework.
Your learning program is your own, and students do not have to attend and therefore may be asked to leave if there is a disruption (a rare event), or you may ask for a Collaborative Proactive Solutions (CPS) meeting or bring a student up in a Restorative Circle. Students, equally, may also ask for a Collaborative Proactive Solutions meeting or bring you up in a Restorative Circle if for some reason they feel that they are being treated unfairly.
Your learning program is also a professional school program and should be kept well organized; attractive to your taste and safe. Risk Assessments must be done on a regular basis.
Each Guide is, in effect, the head of a department. As such, it is your responsibility to be up-to-date with relevant assessments, changes in your syllabus, and, aware of changes in requirements of any National Curriculum Expectations. (We do not have to follow it but need to be up to date about what it contains).
It is great to discuss student interests but you do have the final say. Your curriculum and pedagogy will first and foremost interest the students but at the same time should connect with future required skills when necessary. Just plain fun in the subject is also great.
At KCRS daily observation of work and learning is the best type of assessment. Our classes are so small that this form of 'Family Observation' is very accurate. You should, however, be able to produce a written assessment of students who have attended lessons if required. A daily register should be kept, not to track attendance in the traditional sense but so that you can take a look, from time to time, at who is doing what. That way you can ask questions about your program, your pedagogy etc. Are you meeting the needs and interests of as many children as possible? Your lessons must, of course, be accessible to children of all abilities.
The Staff Body is a community of practice and cross-pollination is highly encouraged. Whether you are creating lessons, field trips, policies or documentation, collaboration is always appropriate as long as everyone is clear about their role in implementation and deliverables. It is important to have a personal record of daily lessons and work covered, and of 'next steps' ... with individuals or with groups. This can be brief but will give you a path to guide you forward, and also enable you to look back should a student return to your lessons after a time away.
You will work with the other guides, staff, and apprentice guides and are responsible for creating and maintaining a Curriculum Outline and Schemes of Work. You will also write an annual Self Evaluation and participate with other staff in our Peer Review process. The staff body includes all Guides, Apprentice Guides, Mentor Staff, Business Manager, etc.
At the beginning of a term, each guide takes part in Sign-up, where students choose the lessons that they want to attend. Our timetable is created using student sign-up interests. The number of lessons you will have on the formal timetable will depend upon the number of students who choose your subject. This means that some terms you will have a 'heavy' formal timetable, sometimes a light one. If you have a lot of empty spaces on your timetable it is important to review this: can you offer some students extra lessons? Can you offer other subjects you may be interested in or that might be helpful to the school and students? This can be discussed with any long-standing guide.
Students are also encouraged to create their own programs, found corporations, and issue challenges for learning journey adventures. Guides will provide support and navigation, as needed, to students who are in need of help with wayfinding. A Guide’s key method of support is an “Honest Open Question”.
If you are a new or apprentice Guide your mentor Guide will meet with you every couple of weeks during your first term and once a month during the second to see how you are getting along or to answer any of your questions. You may, of course, seek assistance at any time from any Guide, other long-standing staff, or student.
All staff, students, and families are similarly oriented to the core values and practices of KCRS. Guides are the essential practitioners and are expected to walk the walk and talk the talk; which includes celebrating successes with humility and owning failures with grace and curiosity.
Finally, since students do not have to attend lessons it follows that they sometimes won't. You should not take this personally. As a guide, you are there to embody lifelong learning and create an attractive atmosphere but definitely not there to 'lure children' into your program. If you find yourself alone then do some creative work, some admin work, pursue a personal interest, or take a break and have a cup of tea or coffee!
Research traditional Sudbury Schools, Democratic Schools and Self-Directed Education
Review the Kansas City Restoration School Website
Read and Re-read “Guiding at KCRS”
Sit with this “Job Description”, meditate on the possibilities
Write an email/ “cover letter” and send it with your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org
You will be called to schedule a first interview, please prepare a list of questions that you would like to ask.
Come to your interview with stories to tell
About your own lifelong learning journey
About your sense of “The School of the Future”
About your experiences with Adultism
About your practice of Anti-racism and Restoration
About your experience/ interest working in alternative governance models