Friday, November 24, 2006


Small Schools deliver the New Three Rs, according to Bill Gates. Rigor, Relevance and Relationships are better in a school where the principal knows every student by name. (note this hyperlink does not work on DOE computers)

OR on ABC .....Dropout special...

Excerpted below :

"But thanks to a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the school
system overhauled the way it does business.

It split a school of
1,300 students into four smaller "learning communities," each
with its own faculty.

The teachers now stay with the students all
four years and create in effect surrogate families. Now 71 percent of students
at Clover Park earn their diplomas."

Progress at this high school
came from teachers getting to know their students and the
challenges they face..."


goddess said...

I LOVE the idea of a principal knowing all their student's names. (I have trouble with this and all my students) I think in theory it's a great idea to have smaller learning communities. With the smaller classroom sizes teachers can devote the time and energy needed to each student. Isn't that what we've been wanting for quite some time now? But is it realistic on a larger level? Can we do away with all larger schools? How can we make this a successful thing for schools nation wide?

W Brown said...

I don't think doing away with larger schools is the answer... There is no cookie cutter solution to better schools... I do think its working at QHST in NYC

Ms. Mayo said...

And...small schools and small learning communities do not mean small class size. There is some research, though, that says that small schools are more important than small classes. I like our small learning communities, and I think they would be even better with smaller class sizes!

And I agree that doing away with all larger schools probably isn't the answer. This probably ties into another idea about why some people aren't that happy.

Advantages that small schools have with respect to relationships, advisories, etc. sometimes come at the cost of traditional high school stuff like lots of teams (although we seem to have everything but football) and clubs (again, we seem to have many). Some people, teachers and students, will probably be happier (or at leat think they will be) at larger schools.


Mr Tesler said...

As a teacher in a new small high school that just got off the ground this year, I agree that the family concept and the sense of community helps a great deal. It's allowed me to develop relationships with students, and has given me the ability to make a personal connection with many of them. I've seen marked improvement in many of my students, a large number of whom came to us as very poor performers in the 8th grade.

Although I think the benefits are great in a small school, it's also important to have some of the "big school" things. Teams and clubs are important in developing a sense of spirit, and community for the school. In speaking with my advisory group today, many expressed a feeling that they need "a reason to want to come to school," other than going to class.

With limited staff, it's hard for us to provide these things. Any advice on how to encourage students to be patient, to see the "forest through the trees?"