Micro-schools represent an increasing trend in private education. They intentionally promote small class size to provide an environment where students and teachers know each other well and where flexibility in learning modalities is a given. Why? In many high schools today the needs of individual students are overlooked. In response, educators are beginning to reconsider the value of small when it comes to school and class size.
What Are the Benefits of the Small Classroom?
In a micro-school, teachers understand the learning style of each student and respond with tailored lessons and homework designed to achieve personalized goals. Students are encouraged to follow a passion, a new interest, or to dig deeper. The transformed structure of the classroom supports:
- Deeper learning through more discussion
- Less lecture and hands-on exploration and research
- Longer class periods focused on fewer subject areas
- Online and experiential learning allowing the student to individualize study
How Do Students Become Engaged?
When teachers have specialized knowledge of their students' strengths and interests, they have an edge on communicating with those children in the most effective and helpful ways possible. We have seen that the small student-centered classroom encourages student engagement and promotes student success.
- Students can spend more one-on-one time with teachers and other students when there are fewer people per class. With a less crowded room, students and teachers get to know each other on a deeper basis.
- Teachers can quickly assess how a small class responds to different kinds of assignments and better judge students' interest in and grasp of the material being studied.
- Smaller class sizes also lead to a more democratic classroom. When teachers and students can openly communicate about school lessons, a shared decision-making emerges that empowers students to become more engaged in their school experience.
What Is the Role of Community?
The hallmark of some micro-schools is their commitment to an environment where students can learn and practice respect for each other and themselves. A sense of community is built through empathy. As students interact with peers in small classes, they will come to understand and appreciate the differences among them. Teachers and students develop collaborative relationships built on respect. Students are encouraged to take responsibility for their learning both in the classroom and beyond. In a Socratic discussion, for example, students take the lead to prepare questions, clarify responses, and manage the conclusions.
Small schools with innovative approaches to learning can make a big difference in the lives of students, families, and the adults of tomorrow.