Personalization In Small Learning Communities

Overview

Most large public middle schools are, by all accounts, consistently failing early adolescents. Suicides, homicides, depression, unintended pregnancies, academic failure, drug abuse, and a host of other problems are endemic among middle school students. A significant contributing factor is the developmentally mismatched environment of middle schools, where teachers have too many students to nurture personal connections. Such caring relationships with adults are critical to the healthy emotional and academic ...
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Overview

Most large public middle schools are, by all accounts, consistently failing early adolescents. Suicides, homicides, depression, unintended pregnancies, academic failure, drug abuse, and a host of other problems are endemic among middle school students. A significant contributing factor is the developmentally mismatched environment of middle schools, where teachers have too many students to nurture personal connections. Such caring relationships with adults are critical to the healthy emotional and academic development of early adolescents. When students feel connected to their teachers, they do better in school, both emotionally and academically. Small schools routinely outperform larger schools on numerous indicators. While the benefits of small schools in engendering personalized relationships have been well documented, the efficacy of more recent efforts to convert large secondary schools to Small Learning Communities (SLCs) is less well understood. This mixed-methods study, conducted at a large urban middle school in Los Angeles County examined the factors that led teachers to become more personally connected to their students when their school converted to a 6th-grade SLC. This study also examined aspects of an evolution-based model of adolescent development---introduced by the author as part of the literature review---which postulates that problematic adolescent behavior is often motivated by a desire for initiation to adulthood. This need was met in ancestral cultures, as well as in modern tribal cultures via the rite of passage. The results of the survey strongly supported the author's theory that teachers who are more empathic toward perceived adolescent misbehavior, and who believe adolescents need connections with adults, are also more likely to report having close personal bonds with their students. Additional findings from the study, conducted with over 90% of the teachers at the school, included the following: (1) reduced teacher-to-student ratios is predictive of positive changes in personalization behavior; (2) instructional teams of teachers working collaboratively increases personalization with students; (3) cooperative instructional strategies positively influences teacher-to-student personalization; and (4) transformational leadership and high teacher morale are predictive of greater efforts towards increased personalization behavior among teachers in a conversion SLC.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781243605351
  • Publisher: BiblioLabsII
  • Publication date: 9/4/2011
  • Pages: 66
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 9.69 (h) x 0.14 (d)

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