Monday, February 07, 2011

The Allure of the One Room Schoolhouse

I've always had a dream of teaching in a one room schoolhouse. I loved the images of school on Little House on the Prairie, The Walton's, and Christy. I've always been drawn to the intimacy of the relationships of the one room schoolhouse. You really have a chance to know your students. As a teacher you are an important part of the community. It is here that lives are changed and a teacher can really make a difference.

But very few of us will ever (if any) have the opportunity to teach in a one room schoolhouse. We find ourselves in mega-schools instead unable to make those all important connections. Last year I taught in a middle school that boasts 1400 students. Whatever happened to the neighborhood school???

Universities face the same problems. How do you feel like you belong as one of 43,000 students? Do you ever really get to know your professors? Do they ever really know you - or even your name for that matter? Would you prefer to sit in a class of 300 or 30?

As I consider my next move in education, I'm very interested in the intangibles - those things that matter to me that can't quite be quantified. I believe that education is all about relationship and you can't build real relationships with hundreds of students.

So as a parent or a teacher, what's most important to you? A new building with shiny floors, state of the art technology and a paycheck that isn't laughable? There's nothing wrong with that. But if that same school has more students that fans at the Super Bowl, then you may want to consider the intangibles.

Where can you have an impact? Can you make a difference where you are? Is the culture and climate of the school a positive one that values and respects the contributions of all its members? Are you one in a million or one of a million?

Find a way to be where you can make a difference, but if that's not possible, make sure you make a difference where you are.