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Andrea Lulka

Great question, Kyle, and I’m happy to share my perspective, with the caveat that my studies of the third plane are very extensive and my practical experience is quite limited. To be honest, it’s a little intimidating to be writing this on a thread in which Dr. Betsy Coe is participating, because so much of my own work has been informed by hers.

A little bit of context first, since I see you have the NAMTA training and am not sure if you know how the AMS is structurally different in terms of the actual curriculum… The curriculum used most widely in AMS centers was created by Dr. Coe and is laid out in three streams: natural world, social world and personal world – all the academic subjects are given within the first two streams in as integrated a way as possible. The Personal World is all about the development of identity, reflection, the creation of our stories, our social being, and really when you get down to it, the work of Valorization. When I created the program for our Middle School, I included studies in child development, loads of journalling, and what is called Solo Time – I don’t know if this in an AMS-wide concept, or one specific to the CMStep training. 

Solo Time is what you’re asking about. It consists of a 30 minute period of silent, non-academic, non-electronic activity. We light a candle, turn the lights down, and put out puzzles, mazes, colouring sheets, magnets, knitting… students are welcome to walk, meditate, do yoga… anything that puts them in a mindful state as well as a state of flow – it is the two together that create the most powerful experience. It is important that it be done as a group – it is an extension of the silence game – it reinforces the idea that as a group, we can create peace, and that it takes all of us – we all have a place and space in the group. There is a story we read at the beginning of the year to introduce the concept, and if needed, again throughout. We start with a shorter time period and build up to 30 minutes. It was a big shock for me when at the third Solo Time of the year, my students asked to keep going. It is important that the teachers also participate, as we are part of the community, and as who we are is the biggest lesson we give. I had very few students for a very short period of time, so I never got to quite experiment enough with how many times a week would have been optimal in my environment. I know of schools that do it once, twice, or three times a week. Very few do it daily – it’s just too hard to get it in there with everything else we have to do. I’ve seen it done in a large public school classroom, and it was just astounding how easily the students had learned to slip into it.


In addition to this, we do daily journalling – always with a prompt (which can be as vague as “explore any occurrence that stands out in your day today as being significant” or as specific as “reflect on three things that struck you about the lesson on fundamental needs”). The journalling can take place at any time during the work period, so is not necessarily done in silence.


I hope this is a little bit helpful, and am happy to clarify or expand on anything – it seems to me that what I’ve written is a bit disjointed.


Syvena, I love your ideas too. It is so important to provide lots of creative opportunities at this age, and I think we forget that sometimes, because we get caught up in the academic pressures. I also agree that what we name things is very important. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!