Term E is beyond regular…

Warning: Out of box thinking needed to digest this article! 😛 One of our students’ absolute favorite activities at LEAF Academy is definitely Term E. “Term E” is a big term itself for us, but let’s start from the beginning…

“Experiential learning is basically “learning by doing”.  When you think of a “traditional class” you might imagine a room filled with students sitting at desks with a teacher lecturing at the front of the room.  With experiential learning, we create a more engaging learning environment that values curiosity, inquiry, and reflections. The Academy approaches all of their classes, co-curriculars, and residential living with this mindset, but Term E is special because students are engaged in a single area of focus for the entire 3 week period.” – Deedee, teacher

So, what is TERM E?

This is a 3 week long experience that is co-planned between students and staffulty, starting with our January Hackathon.  As groups plan together, they consider questions like: What do we want to learn? How can we learn about this topic? How can we work together to challenge ourselves physically and mentally?  How can we share our learning with others?

“Term E might seem like a really big field trip or school sponsored travel, but it’s much more than that.  It’s about stepping out of our comfort zones, connecting with a community, and reflecting on how our actions can positively impact others.”  – Deedee, teacher.

Let start from the beginning

This is a 3 week long experience that is co-planned between students and staffulty, starting with our January Hackathon.  As groups plan together, they consider questions like: What do we want to learn? How can we learn about this topic? How can we work together to challenge ourselves physically and mentally?  How can we share our learning with others?

Then comes the logistics.  For the next few months, groups spend time planning, reviewing, more planning, budgeting, safety-checking, and much more work to ensure all the details of the experience are solidly thought through. Co-owners (one staffulty and one student from each group) are responsible for turning their ideas into reality.  Imagine the amount of “learning by doing” that happens along the way… 🙂

Which one of these 10 experiences would you choose?

Last year, 10 different Term E Experiences (or TEEs for short) took place: Not Only Wurst, Homeless Immersion, Lifestyle of a Modern (Wo)Man, Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food, Ukraine and Children, #WeBeLEAFinEurope, Physics Lab, Monastic Experience, & Video Marketing.  Each of these TEEs were very different, so let’s dive in and learn a bit more.

Not only Wurst

Not only what?! The aim of this language focused experience was to learn German in authentic situations: to increase their understanding of different communities and cultures.  The entire experience was conducted in German and included reading literature, cooking together, guest speakers, cultural events, and more. They also reflected on the different ways in which they best learned languages. Finally, they put their skills and learning into practice during visits to Vienna and Berlin.

Homeless Immersion

This experience has taken students literally to the streets as they partnered with DePaul NGO to investigate the daily lives of homeless in Bratislava. Students have spent few days for introductory research and interviews sociologists in Brno. After these few days, they have spent 10 full days and night “homeless” without a known source of food, home, or money. All they had was few tickets (stravné lístky) and old phone to get in touch with their teacher.

The time spent on street and shelter brought them into various situations and experiences they didn’t expect. They have heard life stories, that has changed their perspective and opinions about homeless conditions and their own life as well.

Lifestyle of a Modern (Wo)Man

This group has not only exercised for 3 weeks, but they have also learn about other aspects of a healthy lifestyle – balancing meals, movement and overall habits. They have joined the Spartan Race, enjoyed a hike in the High Tatras, learned to dive, visited the cave Zlá diera, and tried many differents sports.


This group has stayed for 10 days at a farm in the middle of Slovakia. Here they were taking care of horses and cows, working in the garden and around the farm and living the daily life of a farmer. They have also visited other places to explore the topics of organic gardening, permaculture, eco building and sustainable lifestyle. All this was done with an intention to collect ideas and knowledge that could be used in designing our future campus in Vištuk.

“I’m so glad I chose the farming experience. I pushed myself in every possible way. Cleaning up after horses, cutting the grass the old way or milking a cow are an incredible experience.” Klara (Year 2 student)

Ukraine and Children

6 students with 2 teachers traveled by car for 9 hours to reach our neighbors, Ukraine. They spent the majority of their Term E in a Roma village working with kids. Students led various programs for these children and took them for trips. It was an unforgettable time while engaging with the local community. See for yourself on these pictures…

We Believe In Europe “#WeBeLEAFinEurope"

This group has met many representatives from The European Parliament and European Commission in Bratislava and also in Brussels. Throughout their work they explored how these institutions work and how young people can get involved.

Monastic Experience

The purpose of the Monastic Experience group was to get a deeper understanding of themselves in situations they are not used to. They challenged themselves and explored the monastic traditions in various religions to observe how it can be relevant for us today. They committed to keep “monastic principles” such as no sugar, no coffee, daily meditation, restricted use of phone, TV and social media… for 3 weeks. The final week of their experience took part in 2 different monasteries, where they followed the daily routine and habits of monks.

Physics Lab

The Physics Lab experience has allowed our students to access university labs and do experiments in mechanics, electricity, and magnetism. It was an opportunity to apply skills and knowledge accrued in the Physics C course. Read about their experiences in Silvia’s blog: Physics can be engaging, just look at it from the right perspective! 

Video team

Students who are excited about video making gathered in this group. Their aim was to document and share what other groups were doing in order to inform and inspire. On the way, they learned the basics of video making, interview script, and postproduction. 

TERM E 2019 brings new experiences

A new Term E is ahead of us and we cannot wait to see other countless moments of fun, joy, inspiration, friendships, growth, engagement and students stepping out of their comfort zone.

You can expect more stories about these experiences:

Art Group, Central- European Folklore, Borders of Work, Nuclear Power, Climbing, Santiago, Ukraine, Islam.

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