Growing With a Growing School

Khan Lab School
January 26, 2018 / 5 mins read

"KLS has taught me how to take responsibility and take learning into my own hands."

First off, welcome to KLS! I'm Nunu, a student in Independence Level 5. This is my third year at KLS, and both the school and I have evolved quite a bit since I started.Not only have I observed the growth of a small school, but I have felt my own growth as an independent learner.

I came from a traditional elementary school. My first day at KLS was nerve-racking, weirdly exciting, and very, very confusing. I found it hard to adjust to such a new learning style: shorter classes, large blocks of “Goal Time” (?!), and Passion and Studio Projects. (Goal Time is a self-paced part of the school day when we work on goals that we set for ourselves with guidance from our Advisor.) It was hard for me to believe that my assignments came from myself and my teachers wouldn't be the ones to lay things out for me.It took much trial and error to develop the skills of setting reasonable goals and staying focused.

Every student will find her own way, and I'd like to share some of my own experiences.

Lesson #1: Stepping out of my comfort zone

When I first began at KLS, my number one fear was one-on-one meetings with my Advisor. I hated the idea of talking about myself, so I often avoided contact with my mentors and teachers as much as I could, taking “independence” to an extreme. Soon it became obvious that this wasn't the best way to achieve my goals.What I gained from this was that learning new things requires stepping out of my comfort zone and keeping an open mind.

Lesson #2: Asking for help (to become independent)

From this, I learned that asking for help doesn't contradict being independent. In fact, Content Specialists and Advisors are our best resources, as they can give meaningful guidance. Everyone should learn to take advantage of their help. I know personally that all my Specialists work hard to give me thoughtful feedback and provide helpful resources.I've learned that not being afraid to ask for and receive feedback can improve the quality of my work.

Lesson #3: Set realistic goals

As my parents like to stay informed of my progress, they often ask me to share what's happening at school. My Goal Tracker gives my parents insight into which classes I'm taking and which goals I'm working on each week. My parents can also see my portfolio with recent assignments and detailed comments from Content Specialists. My parents sometimes challenge me on the depth and quality of my learning, so I make an effort to set ambitious goals. Initially they were unachievable, butover time I learned from my mistakes and kept goals challenging but realistic.

Lesson #4: My education is my own

Finally, there's something that took a long time for me to really understand:

“My education is for myself and not for anyone else - not for teachers, and not for parents.”

KLS has taught me how to take responsibility and take learning into my own hands. I learned to do this with all the support and encouragement from my friends, teachers, and parents.

This is just my experience. Every student is different and will find her own way to thrive at KLS. This school is about trying new things, being innovative, and having an open mind. We have the mindset of “You can learn anything,” which I take to heart. KLS has become my second home, a family that has changed my life and my perspective of the world. I hope all students can feel the same support and encouragement that I feel at KLS.

“Not only have I observed the growth of a small school, but I have felt my own growth as an independent learner.” Watercolor artwork by Nunu Z.

Thanks for reading, and happy learning!