This topic was especially interesting to me, because I am currently doing volunteer hours at a high school, which is looking to go to small learning communities next year. After talking with some of the faculty I have found that most administrators are very positive about the idea, while teachers are a little more hesitant. The focus at these high school is to allow for students to work together in collaborative teams, to seek strategies for student improvement, and monitor student progress.
To help large districts and schools personalize the high school experience, the U.S. Congress has appropriated funding for the Smaller Learning Communities (SLC) program, which will create and support strategies that will hopefully result in smaller, safer learning environments at the high school level. Most of the strategies have advantages such as making the students feel connected to the faculty, fellow classmates, and their school. The strategies include freshmen transition activities, multi-year groups, alternative scheduling, adult advocate systems, teacher advisory systems, and academic teaming.
But what are learning communities? There are different ways to describe what this learning community is. One is a group of people who interact and share a goal of increased learning for all members. (Ireland, Hoeppner, Cleary). Students, faculty, and parents have a common goal to educate and make the school a better place. The foundation of any learning community is collaboration rather than competition. (Cooper and Boyd.) The focus of a learning community is that of learning by students actively participating. The Center for the Study of Community in Santa Fe, New Mexico asks the question What if we were to organize schools around the ecological dynamics of interdependence of members, structure and pattern, sustainability through feedback loops and recycling of materials, diversity through a variety of relationship and/or approaches, networks...