Learning to be Flexible – Being Flexible to Learn
One size never fits all. This we know to be true. Yet for over one hundred years the education system in the United States, and in much of the world, has failed in many ways to utilize this understanding to improve itself. The current organization of classes, grades, and school periods was designed 127 years ago by business leaders to fill jobs at the time. St. Francis of Assisi School is embracing this truth and offering more flexibility in the coming year to meet a wider variety of student needs.
Many schools and districts boast having “small class sizes”. If you’ve ever attempted to lead a sports practice, Scout meeting, or birthday party with 15 to 20 kids – numbers considered to be “small class sizes”, you know those numbers can be challenging. Learning today is not sitting at a desk while the teacher teaches in the front of the room. Learning today involves more movement, collaboration, and involvement for students. The teacher plays a wider variety of roles. Having additional trained support staff, resources, space, and procedures bring productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness to such situations. There are also times when “small class size” has a negative connotation, especially for those having a hard time connecting with peers. Being flexible in grouping and sizes of groups meets that challenge.
Next year, we will spread classes out a bit to allow for more traditional as well as flex spaces in the school. The preschool rooms and Kindergarten already had flex space available in their Wee Lab and Centers Room. This year all grade levels will benefit from flex space. “Learning Lab Spaces” between two grades or as a Middle School Commons will allow teachers and additional staff to work one-on-one, in small groups of any number, and in large groups. Students will be able to learn in environments that are more traditional or more flexible, depending on their learning needs. While each grade will have only one designated homeroom teacher, the addition of trained instructional aides, and additional specialty staff will allow for smaller student ratios in many cases than splitting classes between two teachers. Please stay tuned next month to learn more about the exciting kinds of learning that will take place at SFA next year!