So it’s been a while! Sorry! Between trying to pass my preliminary oral exams (done!), taking on a new part time job and supporting my kids with their multitude of extracurricular activities, it has been BUSY! I’m especially excited about the new job as the Smaller Learning Communities coordinator at Kapa’a High School. After several years working primarily at the elementary level in independent schools, it’s GREAT to be back working at the high school level in a public setting. I have spent the first two months learning everything I can about best practices related to Smaller Learning Communities and trying to understand what wonderful things are already going on at the school so that we can identify what can be expanded and/or refined to better fit the SLC model.
So far we have decided to divide our 9th and 10th graders into 2 Hui (teams) of about 120 students each with interdisciplinary teams of teachers servicing each group. We will shift to grade level rather than alpha counselors and the counselor will stay with the class all the way until they graduate. A vice-principal will also be assigned to each team. For 11th and 12th grade, we already have several CTE pathways and fine arts programs in place and we hope to expand them to become what we will call mini-magnets. Students will take 4-8 required courses in the mini-mag during 11th and 12th and perhaps one or two prerequisites in 9th and 10th. We are hoping to start school later in the day to accomodate common planning time before school starts each day in addition to common preps for Hui and Magnet teaching teams. Our core values will be personalization, rigor & relevance and equity.
So tell me, what works in terms of Smaller Learning Communities? What excellent programs are you familiar with that you might be willing to share? What pitfalls should we watch out for? What should we make sure to address as we move forward? Are we on the right track? What else should we consider?