– Maureen O’Shaughnessy, Ed.D –
If you are flipping your lessons (or entire class), you are an education pioneer. Yes, YOU. Don’t look to your left or your right. I am talking to YOU. You are elevating teaching and learning to new frontiers. You are empowering your students to be creative, active learners, and you have chosen to head into uncharted territory. Many of us don’t see ourselves as pioneers, but like astronauts and other early explorers, FL 3.0 teachers have given up the safety of staying in a known place, to find or create something better for our students. For those of us who have left traditional teaching behind, there are new possibilities on the horizon. The good news is that you are already well prepared for what’s ahead. Let’s take a look.
Leaving behind the traditional classroom may have been bittersweet and scary. There is comfort in the familiar. But most of us don’t miss classrooms that move kids through the course content like they are on an assembly line. You probably don’t miss pouring your heart into every class, yet seeing students fall through the cracks. And, if you are actively part of the Flipped Learning global community, you don’t miss being isolated and alone in your practice of flipped instruction. More importantly, you now know much more is out there to explore, so your kids can maximize learning, and you can keep growing as a professional. There’s Mastery Learning, student-directed classes, and yes, micro-schools with the focus squarely on small communities of learning and reaching each student, every single day!
Micro-schools come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They are used to teach a myriad of subjects and achieve a wide array of education goals. The first thing to grasp about micro-schools is, that like Flipped Learning, they are a framework – a different way to do school that makes reaching every student possible.
Some micro-schools are homeschools or co-ops with heavy parent involvement. Others are small stand-alone schools. Another popular version is the school-within-a-school (SWAS). The SWAS often operates inside a large public school and runs on a separate but parallel track. It might be a Cambridge Program in a high school or a second/third classroom where the students are with the same teacher for two years. Interested? There is the option to create a new SWAS that you (perhaps with some fellow collaborating teachers) design and implement within your own school. This last possibility is what this monthly column is all about.
So where might a micro-school take you? Well, the answer largely depends on where you would like to go with your teaching career. What I can tell you is that micro-schools offer such a myriad of choices that the possibilities are only limited by your passion and creativity. I can also tell you that the trail has already been blazed. Micro-schools everywhere are proven, secure, and established. Most importantly, the SWAS version of micro-schools is an effective new way to use your Flipped Learning skills, pioneering experience, and desire to reach every student to be an even more effective teacher. Finally, I can tell you that there is a growing community of teachers in micro-schools who are here to help and support you. So whether you are just curious about exploring the possibilities, considering the option and kicking the tires, or actually taking the leap, this column is for you.
Over the next few months, you will learn more about how the micro-school framework can enable you to use your FL 3.0 skills to reach every student in profound, exciting, and deeply fulfilling ways. Your dedication to students and willingness to stray from the beaten path has prepared you for the road ahead. I am excited to be with you on this transformational journey!
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