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AGC Launches Global Citizen Workshop Series in Middle School

14 Feb

AGC’s Middle School program is kicking off a Global Citizen Workshop Series in two weeks with expert guest lectures and performances on social justice issues. Every month AGC students in grades 6-8 will participate in workshops led by local experts and members of our community.

AGC’s core mission is to develop mindful leaders who take action to positively impact their communities and the world beyond. In order to help our students develop the skills and aptitudes of an open-minded critical thinker, we seek to engage them in critical dialog about what is happening around the block and around the globe.

AGC’s Middle Years Program Coordinator, Berenice Salas, is spearheading this initiative alongside student and faculty leaders. Mrs. Salas brings a unique perspective as a long-time social justice educator and parent of three AGC students who has spent her whole life in our community on the southwest side. For Mrs. Salas, this workshop series is a way to proactively address the needs of our local community by encouraging grassroots advocacy.  

“We need to have critical dialogue with our students. We need them to commit to being part of the positive change in our world. This is a way for them to develop a deeper understanding of their role within our school, their community, society, and the world.” – Berenice Salas, AGC Middle Years Program Coordinator

Each workshop will feature at least one guest expert who will engage our students in reflective dialog on important issues in our community around the world.  The organizing committee has prioritized seeking experts who are represent the diversity within our community and who are aligned to AGC’s mission and vision.

The Global Citizen Workshop Series kicks off in two weeks with a workshop featuring local rapper and educator Lizzie G. Lizzie G’s programming addresses issues of race, identity, empowerment, bullying and social emotional learning, through dialog and entertainment. Local to Chicago, Lizzie frequently takes her “No Bully Zone” program  on the road, and recently returned from a tour of schools in Haiti.

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Lizzie G performs during a No Bully Zone school program in Chicago.

Proposed upcoming topics include: social media and our digital footprint; crime, drugs, and gangs; interpersonal violence and bullying; healthy sexuality and LGBTQ+ identities; and social emotional wellness. 

In addition to this workshop series for Middle School students, AGC educators are also hosting a parent discussion series. This series, which we are calling “Real Talk,” offers a safe environment and resources to support our parent community in discussing topics such as gender, race, ethnicity, and culture. Real Talk  seeks to provide a safe and respectful space to discuss tough topics, to help participants develop better understandings of different perspectives, and to encourage the sharing of personal stories and opinions.

If you are an educator or school leader interested in learning how AGC incorporates global citizenship and social justice into our culture, curriculum and operations, please contact us to learn about professional development offerings.

We are enthusiastic about these new initiatives and will keep you updated on the blog as our Global Citizen Workshops and Real Talk Series continues. As a public charter school, AGC’s budget is limited by per-pupil funding amounts, and we seek donations for important innovative programs like our Global Citizen Workshop series, 100% Organic food program, and international student travel. Click here to make a donation to support innovative programs at AGC or  contact us to sponsor an upcoming workshop.

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AGC students at a recent Peace Rally

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AGC’s Wellness Wheel, Free to Print and Share!

11 Jan

At AGC, we are mindful of our students physical and mental health needs. Educating the whole child beings with ensuring whole child wellness. We look to the wellness wheel as a helpful symbol of our balanced wellness approach.wellness wheel

The wellness wheel guides our daily practices across culture, curriculum and operations. Every morning, students and staff share a balanced, organic breakfast followed by yoga or meditation and a community meeting. To maintain balance during a demanding 8-hour school day, students enjoy 25-minute recess and take additional 10-minute “brain breaks” throughout each day. From grades K-2, students participate in a daily wellness class which incorporates all 6 aspects of human wellness, described below. Beginning in third grade, students have a more traditional physical education course in addition to a holistic wellness course, which addresses social, emotional, environmental, spiritual, and intellectual wellness alongside topics in physical wellness, such as nutrition and hygiene. These two courses provide critical skills and guidance as our students become increasingly independent and responsible for developing their own healthy habits.

6 Dimensions of Human Wellness at AGC 

Intellectual – We practice intellectual wellness every day as we exercise and fuel our minds. We are curious, open to new ideas, and maintain an appetite for lifelong learning.

Physical – We practice physical wellness by sharing balanced and nutritious meals,  participating in daily physical activity, caring for our body in a way that supports a long life and an active lifestyle.

Emotional – We practice emotional wellness by developing our ability to handle emotions in a constructive or positive way. We do so through integrating social-emotional concepts across our curriculum in units such as “art and feelings”

Social – We practice social wellness by seeking to maintain satisfying relationships, healthy networks, and community participation.

Spiritual – We practicing spiritual wellness by taking part in activities that impart a sense of meaning and purpose in life and by developing a sense of our personal values.

Environmental – We practice environmental wellness by appreciating, respecting, and supporting our surroundings and the planet, as well as by spending time in nature.

The video below, developed by our friends at the Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois Principals Association offers a glimpse inside AGC’s Wellness program.

 

Click for a printable 11×17 Wellness Wheel_Poster! 

Please enjoy this free download. We ask that you do not edit or crop the poster, credit and, where relevant link to the Academy for Global Citizenship.

Contact us to inquire about professional development opportunities or to arrange a tour highlighting our Wellness program.

AGC is Hiring!

11 Aug

AGC is hiring for the 2018-2019 school year! Please share the opportunities below with your networks to help us reach best-fit candidates for our unique school.

The Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) is a non-profit Chicago public charter school, located on the Southwest side. Our mission is to develop mindful leaders who take action now and in the future to positively impact their communities and the world beyond. Our innovative and holistic approach aims to foster systemic change and inspire the way society educates future generations. AGC values:

AGC Values

AGC is an internationally recognized laboratory of innovation in education, with a Dual Language program, an International Baccalaureate MYP and PYP program, and a progressive approach to multi-stakeholder collaboration. Please help us identify good-fit candidates for the following roles! Click the links below for full job descriptions.

We are looking for staff who…

  • Have a big heart to match a big brain
  • Want their work to define best practice
  • Respect and thrive in a dynamic, changing, and growing environment
  • Know extraordinary things can happen when people work hard together
  • Want to participate in a laboratory for innovation in education
  • Are (ideally) bilingual in English and Spanish

Working at AGC means…

  • Being surrounded by thoughtful, inquisitive students and hard-working, like-minded colleagues
  • Thinking outside of the box to do what is best for our students
  • Promoting student profile qualities of the International Baccalaureate Program: inquirers, thinkers, communicators, risk takers, knowledgeable, principled, caring, open-minded, well-balanced, and reflective.
  • Having high academic expectations for every student in the school every day
  • Getting your hands dirty in our school garden
  • Enjoying 100% organic, scratch-made meals prepared by our on-site chef
  • Working in an environmentally sustainable school culture

    For hiring-related inquiries, please contact hiring@agcchicago.org.

    We are an Equal Opportunity Employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, gender, age national origin, or disability.

Recess Credit Eva and Daniel Gillet

Seeking exemplary applicants for the 2018-2019 school for the following positions:

For additional questions, please contact AGC’s Executive Director at sarahelizabeth@agcchicago.org.

We Want Peace

14 Mar

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This morning, at 10:00 am, AGC students across grades K-8 stepped outside to share a message of peace with students around the country following the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida one month ago.

Students at our K-2 building walked outside chanting “we want peace,” and formed a peace sign in the parking lot. They then recited a poem about peace in Spanish and English. AGC’s curriculum doesn’t explicitly explore such tragedies before it’s developmentally appropriate, however, these young students were curious and concerned after learning about the shooting through the news and were interested in sending a message of peace today.

The walkout at our 3rd-8th grade building was planned and lead by our Middle School Changemaker Advisory group. These students led their peers outside, and then took turns speaking about the reason behind the walkout. “We are walking out to show that we care, and by participating, you show that you care too,” they said, “even though the event that brought us here was tragic, we want to honor the victims by spreading positivity.”

AGC students then read the names of all 17 victims, and held a moment of silence in their honor. For 60 seconds, 300 students in grades 3-8 stood in absolute silence.

Finally, the student leaders broke their peers into small groups to discuss how students can get involved in the movement for safe schools, or to spread peace and positivity among their communities.

Participation at both buildings was completely optional, and students were invited to stay warm inside with several staff members if they did not wish to participate.

We are proud of our students for choosing to advocate for peace, positivity, and progress, and for adding their voices to a national student movement today.

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Democracy in School Leadership

9 Mar

What is a Democratic School?

Democratic schools each embody the spirit of democracy in their own way. They are as distinct as the communities they support. The spectrum of democratic runs the gamut from the anarchistic Free Skool concept, to schools who host weekly parliamentary meetings. These schools value the distribution of power across a learning community through seeking feedback, encouraging freedom of choice, and engaging with horizontal leadership structures.

This is What Democracy Looks Like (at AGC)

In 2014, AGC took steps to formalize an existing philosophy of power-sharing into more formal systems of democratic participation. On a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis, elected multi-stakeholder groups make recommendations to inform school management based on constituent feedback. Those democratic structures (described below in italics) seek to activate feedback from all staff, channel the parent voice, and tap into student perspectives. Our goal is for a majority of decisions affecting the whole school are made through a democratic process.

Within each classroom, democracy is also upheld as a value. AGC follows the best practices of Responsive Classroom, Restorative Justice, and student-led inquiry-based learning. Within our International Baccalaureate framework, students have tremendous agency to drive their own learning.

Our Democratic Structures:

The School Planning and Management Team, is a group of elected representatives from each staff department alongside a parent representative, with participation from the student council when appropriate.  

The AGC Community Council (ACC) is an elected group of parents, staff, and parents who are also staff (a huge percentage of our staff are also parents of AGC students.) The ACC is tasked with channeling the parent voice and helping to organize parent engagement. 

An elected Student Council represents student voice. Additional student committees and publications bolster open feedback and dialog.

An array multi-stakeholder committees tackle specific needs, such as the budget committee (made up of parents and staff) and the hiring committee.

Why Democratic Education?

Democracy can be messy and labor-intensive, but power sharing in the classroom and in school leadership also has tremendous benefits.

We are truly greater than the sum of our parts. To reimagine what’s possible in public education, we need every member of our community to be fully and authentically contributing to our vision for change.  A diversity of perspectives within multi-stakeholder groups also helps to enrich decision making.

In his book exploring democratic learning environments, American Schools, Sam Chaltain describes the balance that American institutions strike. “These two universal needs,” he says, “for freedom on one hand and structure on the other — are particularly relevant to our nation’s school leaders, who must strike the right balance between the two in order to create healthy, high-functioning learning environments.”

Responding to Change

AGC was founded in 2008 with 100 students and a handful of staff. As our school has grown and evolved — developing our Middle Years Program in 2013, incorporating a Dual Language program in 2014, graduating our first 8th-grade class in 2016 and now, in our 10th year — our staff structure has grown and changed organically to meet the needs of our community. Our democratic structures have emerged, ebbed and flowed responsive to changing needs.

Recently, we sat down as a community to draft a staff model that best meets the needs of our community today. After ten years of intense growth and change, we’re no longer adding a grade level each year and, because change is truly the only constant, we’ve grasped an opportunity to reflect and redesign our leadership approach.

As a laboratory of innovation in education, we look for the best path, which is often not the most common or the easiest one. As a community driven by a unique mission, vision, and values, we are accustomed to innovative problem-solving.  Over the last year, AGC’s democratic multi-stakeholder groups have spent countless hours developing a vision for the future of our leadership structure.

Innovating on School Leadership

To begin this process, we held open parent and staff meetings across two evenings to collect feedback on what the goals of a new leadership structure should be. Parents, staff, and students walked silently around the multipurpose room, pausing in front of chart paper taped to the walls to answer probing questions: “What makes our community unique? What will AGC be remembered for in 10 years? What is the primary role of leadership?” We then split into small, multi-stakeholder groups to reflect and offer feedback. All of the days’ notes were collected and analyzed by the School Planning and Management Team (SPMT). This feedback and generated 11 models, each reflecting a unique approach to leading a democratic school.

After several rounds of feedback and Q & A on shared google docs, the 11 models were reduced to 4.  Those 4 models were taken to staff who, during a professional development day, broke into small groups to observe the problems in school leadership each model solved, created, or failed to address.

It has been an inspiring experience to watch our staff collaboratively innovate and problem solve, week after week throughout this process. AGC’s incomparable staff boasts an average of 11+ years of experience, which is uncommon in the Chicago charter community. AGC also retains 90% of our staff year-to-year, so we must be doing something right!

What’s Next?

With this revamped leadership model, we’re now looking for progressive, innovative, and bilingual school leaders to join our team. We are exploring internal and external candidates simultaneously and accepting applications on a rolling basis.

Please share our 2018-2019 staff openings with the like-minded educators in your network!

Revised Leadership Roles, Hiring for 2018-2019

Teaching Positions, Hiring for 2018-2019

“The Day my Teacher Was Arrested” | A Teacher and Student Perspective on Studying Government

20 Feb

AGC’s 5th grade government unit includes an immersive experiential component that is a big hit with teachers and students. Read on to hear both perspectives.

According to Ms. Helma, a teacher:

The students experienced a democracy last Tuesday, in which they had to vote on everything.  They voted on questions like “can Cindy take a break for the bathroom?” and “should we learn Math or literacy first?” The class operated as a monarchy on Wednesday, with rulers from the same family and phrases like “please bow to the queen!” On Thursday, the class transformed into a DICTATORSHIP. Oh no! Mr. T was the dictator and those who didn’t go against him received favored treatment, including more choice time. Students knew it was a simulation and a safe word was established. Nonetheless, they were totally and enthusiastically immersed in the experience.

Half way through the day, some students ‘escaped’ and helped me organize a coup. We protested for human rights while Mr. Thompson had his students act like ‘loyal followers’ stating the Pledge of Allegiance to Mr. T.

Luckily we won, but did the students really sign up for a better deal?!

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Soon, we returned to our normal classroom routines, with a new appreciation for our leadership and collaboration. Students spent the rest of the day talking about how it felt to experience different forms of government. No students were hurt during the simulation! It was all fun and a great learning moment!

I love this class and the deep conversations we had about types of government, opinions, following, bravery, fighting for what YOU think is right! I love working on days like these! This is great teaching and motivates kids to think deeply about this topic!

According to Miguelito, a student:

“For me it was a normal partly cloudy Tuesday. I had just finished my breakfast and was getting ready to go upstairs to Mr. Thompson’s class. I was chatting with my friends when I noticed posters that really freaked me out. Here is what some of the posters said: “Big brother is watching you,” “freedom is slavery, and “war is peace.”big brother

I felt something was really different with Mr. Thompson when he started separating us into three groups by giving us different colored stickers. I thought he was grumpy because he didn’t have his coffee. We had to do different activities based on our sticker color.when it was time for recess The people who had yellow stickers had to stay inside for 20 minutes and only had 6 minutes of recess. The highest ranked people had blue stickers. I had a blue sticker. If you lost your sticker, you had to sit in a box outlined by tape to the floor. My friend got a promotion from yellow to green, but then he lost it when he shouted out.  After lunch we headed upstairs to watch  CNN 10 as usual, but he didn’t let us finish and made us do math instead. Usually we start math at 2:10 but it was only 12:05. I was so confused.

Suddenly, the security coordinator, Mr. Jose came and arrested Mr. T. out of nowhere! Then another teacher came in as the the leader of a rebellion called The Fist. We were freaking out! Then we had a trial. I was trying to take in all of this weird commotion, so I just left it to the new leader, who was taking action for freedom, which sounded better than Mr. Thompson ordering all of us around. Eventually, the new leader started ordering us around too. 

Then, it was three o’clock, and Mr. Thompson came back. We were happy when he came back because he wasn’t a mean old grumpy man anymore. He wasn’t mean anymore because the government simulation was over.

I’m just a typical 5th grader in Mr. Thompson’s class and this week we were studying government. In our government unit, we actually recreated what happens in government systems. For a whole week, we simulated different forms of government.  

For instance, the next day, we had a simulation about monarchy. Brianna was assassinated on her way to a ceremony. Then Gigi, her sister, took over leading the class, until she “died” of coffee poisoning. Then Melanie took over, but she made the boys sit on the floor. She “died” when her sisters’ ghosts haunted her. Their youngest brother, Ray took over next. He was King Ochoa the first. He made the girls clean up and do work in their math books.

After that day, it was communism, we all had the same thing and nobody was different. For instance, if there weren’t enough chairs for everyone to sit at a table we all had to sit on the floor. It made me feel a little bit bummed because my lesson spot is a chair. A lesson spot is the place where a student chooses to do their work.

Mr. T. could have use the boring old method of teaching with the stick against the chalkboard. And I don’t like that way. I mean sure we had to fill out a packet but we gained memories. And that was the end of my really weird week studying government.”

 

Middle Schoolers Help the Homeless and Hungry

6 Feb

In every classroom at the Academy for Global Citizenship my friends and I placed a jar for donations.  Students, families, and teachers put money in this jar for a food drive.

My advisory group was taking action with a food drive. My advisory group is called “The Change Maker Advisory,” because we are a classroom of students who take action for positive change. The food drive for the Greater Chicago Food Depository helps homeless and hungry people by donating canned food as well as money. Only one dollar buys three meals which is surprising. The whole school was involved. Students, teachers, and parents brought in money or canned food.

We collected a lot of money to help homeless or hungry people.  We were excited because the people receiving the food would be very happy and fed by all of those who helped donate. This also helped us finish our first task towards participating in WE day. WE day is a day where many schools come together to stand up to fight for equality and equity. WE day is also a day to learn about our world and what is going on.

My advisory group collected donations in both of our school’s buildings. We passed out jars and boxes for food and put up posters that gave information about the food drive and the Chicago Food Depository.

On the Monday before the food drive ended, Ms. Hagen went into her classroom and noticed something seemed to be different. When she looked in her desk for the food depository money, she saw that the coins were left but the bills were all gone. The change maker advisory had a sad morning when we heard that our money has been stolen. The whole advisory was surprised. Ms. Hagen told each and every class that they about this horrible problem. Ms. Hagen was heartbroken.

The 7th graders went hunting in their backpacks for all the spare change they could find.  That day alone we raised $75 dollars and only a few days after that we raised $200.

Parents also heard about the incident and donated more and helped bring us over our goal by 100 dollars. Our community gladly raised another $200. It’s so nice to know people care and were trying to give back what was taken. This was a thoughtful action taken by the students and parents. We appreciate all  the donations that we received and were able to give to the Chicago Food Depository. This organization will make so many meals for people with all the love and kindness AGC orcas have showed.   

In total, we collected and donated 112 pounds of food and $832.81. Overall, this provided about 2,600 meals for our neighbors in need!

We are happy we were able to make a difference for the homeless and hungry people.

This blog post was written by a student serving as a brand ambassador in AGC’s after-school club “Telling our Stories.” Stay tuned for more!

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