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Old School = New School

Some people (both teens + parents) hold the belief that a small middle or high school learning environment limits social development and engagement as well as community belonging. Ironically, they believe that small, intimate learning environments hold the key to unlocking a love of learning due to educator engagement as well as the dynamic of the classroom.

While there is no "one size fits all" for social and learning experiences, the door shouldn't be shut on small environments for the all too real teen social cravings. There is room for both in small environments and one shouldn't have to make less than ideal trade-offs.

I have made real life observations worthy of sharing for those who might be wrestling with these challenges.

Small allows your learner to retain some social and environmental innocence just a bit longer. The realities of the broader world will be knocking on their doorstep soon enough.

Small eliminates segregation regarding age and learning. A 15 yr. old does not choose to not play catch with someone because they are 11 or 12. Also, a learner does not shun someone simply because they learn differently from themselves. I have found that when a learner discovers how another takes in information, they become leaders via collaboration and helping others to understand concepts.

Small allows for rich social development. One must find things they have in common with peers by digging deep and getting to know them vs. having an instant connection. An invaluable life skill is to really know another. Our students spend Saturday's playing DnD, have traveled together, play golf after school. Making memories.

Small bolsters a teen's confidence as those wanting a broader social circle must step into the unknown to engage in outside activities. If a student wants to play middle or high school athletics, they must venture into those settings where they rarely know anyone. This takes confidence and courage. Eventually new friendships develop and their social circle expands. My teens participate in these outside activities. They willingly come back to their small school for their individual tailored learning. Best of both worlds (for us).

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