Meier Notes

Small Schools: six reasons for having small schools

Dear principal,
We are a small school, yet I feel that we are not taking full advantage of what this could mean for us and our school. Teachers do work collaboratively and talk with one another, but they do not, for the most part, share their work with one another. Collaboration at this school manifests as talking about Leah or Jaacov in terms of the quality of their work, sharing information about their external conditions (family, events, moods), but this is only one aspect of collaboration. I feel that we can more appropriately establish the kind of community we outlined in our mission statement but enacting some staff-related norms. First of all, I believe that every teacher should have some knowledge of what the other teachers are doing. This can be accomplished by holding meetings weekly or biweekly. This meeting would look something like a discussion meets show-and-tell. It is our responsibility as educators to embody the learning that we want to instill in the students. This can be modeled by learning from our own talented staff! We should be learning from one another--learning the subject matter, learning the craft of teaching, learning about one another's passions and talents.

Transparency: make the classroom and curricula publicly available

Children and adults: Create an atmosphere where adults and children interact in genuine ways, where the teacher is "in the face" of the student. Students benefit from having interactions with adults other than their parents. It helps them to expand their thinking. They can begin to see teachers as whole human beings, rather that just the person is in the classroom with them.

Staff life entangled with school life and community: What are we all working for?
The life of the teacher should bring the teacher closer to her students, not remove herself from them. The first step in creating a collaborative staff culture is to make our teaching accessible to one another and the public. This does not mean conducting classes with open doors. But it does mean inviting others to sit in on classes. It means holding joint classes with two teachers--one to teach and one to observe and provide feedback.