The Open Classroom Charter School is a parent cooperative learning community in which teachers and parents collaborate to educate the whole child and empower life-long learners.
About Our Name
Our founders named the program the Open Classroom because they wanted the program to stand for a flexible approach to education, where the needs of each child are considered individually. Although the name and the principle are well-loved in our community, we recognize that the name can also be somewhat misleading. In fact, every student in the Open Classroom is assigned to a specific teacher in an ordinary classrooms with walls – but what happens inside of those classrooms is extraordinary!
History of the OC
The Open Classroom became part of the Salt Lake City School District in 1977, starting with eight multi-aged classrooms housed in two separate elementary schools. The Program was founded by a group of parents and teachers who wanted to be actively involved in their children’s learning. At the time, there were two main philosophies of education; the traditional model in which adults provided information which the children passively received, and a child-directed model where children were given materials to explore and the adults stayed out of the way. The founders of the Open Classroom developed an alternative approach where children and adults work as partners in the learning process. Adults provide basic guidance, including contextual and historical knowledge. Children have space to explore the topics further, think deeply, and process information, creating a rich learning experience.
In the Fall of 2006 the Open Classroom expanded to include a Middle School and began its first year as a District Charter. It is now a full K-8 with multi-aged or blended classrooms configured for the current needs of our students.
The OC Is A Charter School
The OC was granted Charter status by the Salt Lake City School District beginning in 2006. Our operations look very similar to a neighborhood school, but charter status allows us additional autonomy to focus on teaching and learning in accordance with our philosophy.
The OC teachers advance the core curriculum outlined by the state. The difference between the OC and traditional programs is in the way we learn. We believe that students learn most effectively when they are immersed in meaningful authentic learning experiences where they can:
- practice self reliance,
- assume responsibility for their own learning,
- develop positive self-esteem and confidence,
- experience decision-making and problem-solving opportunities,
- learn cooperatively in multi-aged settings, and
- be supported by active parental participation and involvement in classroom and program operation
Blended grade classrooms are an important element in our school. Educational research shows that multi-aged learning environments facilitate individualized instruction where teachers focus on each student’s needs rather than grade level expectations. They also broaden the social peer group for children, offering a wider possibility of friendship choices.
Other benefits of multi-aged classrooms:
- Model a family setting, encouraging a strong sense of community.
- Allow children to teach and learn from each other.
- Enable a teacher to have some children for more than one year, allowing a seamless continuation of the working/teaching relationship.