Dear Acera community.

Staff collaboration, learning together, and continuous improvement of our program are in the DNA of Acera’s culture!  Collaboration workshop times are scheduled into our school year – the week before and after our school year, each week for our core, specialist and whole staff meetings, and our professional development days during the school year.  

The focus of our end-of-year collaboration week includes facets of mission alignment, norms setting and updating,  intentional professional development led by internal and external people, deep exchange of perspectives and prior year experiences to improve all aspects of our program, and intentional concrete hand-off and planning for kids’ individual learning pathways and placements.  

Here is a bit more information about a couple of these topics:

Dialogue Skills:  How can we address the polarization and cancel culture we see in society – which comes into schools in an intensified way especially amid global events and elections?  Three Acera teachers from the anti racism working group attended a two part AISNE training and led a PD for us all as a result. The through line?  Deepening our abilities in “dialogue”  practices as a community.  The  Dialogue, Division, and Depolarization led to this week’s discussion about what can get in the way, such as Tribalism & Othering, Fake Consensus Effect, Confirmation Bias, and Fundamental Attribution Error, and Tendencies towards Freeze, Flight, or Fawn.  

AI Lunch Discussion:  We discussed things such as… How can we / should we use AI and AI Infused tools at Acera – as teachers and for students?  How can we teach discernment?  

Teacher Spotlights:  Teachers shared a unit or elective they designed and led this year, sharing pedagogy, student project results, experiences and feedback, and  reflections on how to improve if offered again in the future. Teachers present their work … for example, Ruma’s financial bubbles markets and sociology elective, Danny’s environmental science elective, and David’s Tech Hub.

Upper School Reflections & Planning: Which electives are core and specialists thinking about offering in each trimester next year? Which will get offered again? What are new ideas that people have in mind?  Brain Day – it went well!  The university we worked with had ways to extend it and include a meaningful field trip…should we do this again next year? Do we want to expand this to include lower school? What will the first three weeks of school look like – what will be the same and different from last year?

Giftedness PD Sessions: We had a working sessions to clarify Acera’s point of view on gifted education, through the lens of our core learning approaches – individualized and custom learning pathways, and project based learning; this built on the PD from August 2023’s Collaboration Week and other gifted education sessions this school year.  We also heard from a Professional Learning Community report out on their program this year in which they studied a book about twice exceptional learners. The group shared out a point of view about how the combination of ADHD and giftedness creates its own unique combination in a category the book dubs “ADHG.”  Here is a summary of classroom strategies that were discussed.

Math block Each year we re-envision which math classes to we will offer and which types of teachers we can best align with the different math profiles and needs.  We had an open collaboration sesion in which the current draft (created by the instructional leadership team) of math block placements for students and teachers was shared across the whole staff.  Copious teacher input from the current math teacher is included in the draft from the beginning.  The ways we add on additional assessment start of year is also clarified and upgraded each June and August collaboration week.

These are just snapshots of the myriad work in reflection, planning, and learning in this week as we prepare for an amazing school year next fall!  

All the best,


Courtney Dickinson is Acera’s Founder & Head of School.

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