I teach in a tiny school. The 8th grade class is seven students – and they’re the “big” class. Despite the size, the upper grades are completely departmentalized. There’s a different teacher for every subject, and with the way schedules work out, I never see them. Ever.
Honestly, that works for me, even though I know it shouldn’t. Bouncing around the country for so many years gave me a bit of an independent streak when it comes to teaching. It was survival mode then, but now it keeps me from reaching out or initiating collaboration (I’m working on this now). And from what I’ve picked up in meetings, the overall vision of our school is vague at best. We’re a Christian school and Biblical teaching is given highest priority, but that’s where the vision stops, as far as I can tell.
What kind of academic education do we provide? What learning outcomes are we trying to instill? What are we doing to prepare these kids for high school and the world beyond? If there is an overriding vision, it hasn’t been communicated to the teachers well. All the teachers are very qualified, but we’re all doing our own thing in isolation.
The crazy thing is, by rocking the boat and changing how I teach, I’m now seeing those conversations higher up the ladder. Among other things, the board is talking about pursuing accreditation. Maybe that process will help us define a vision, not just in our religious beliefs, but in our academic practice, as well.