Flat World of Education School Practices

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In this paper the five schools’ practices as listed in The Flat World of Education are identified and prioritized according to the needs of the my school. The practices are defined in relation to their proven successes and related to my school’s immediate concerns. Solutions to each need are provided along with practical steps toward their implementations. Though each area is listed as a separate practice, they overlap one another and share the underlying need of smaller class sizes and high expectations on curriculum, assessments and professionalism.

Darling-Hammond's Five Schools' Practices for Success as listed in The Flat World and Education
In her book The Flat World and Education, Linda Darlington-Hammond discusses five practices used to successfully reform overcrowded, underachieving urban schools. The five practices are as follows: 1. Small school units, 2. Structures for personalization, intellectually challenging and relevant instruction, performance-based assessment and professional learning and collaboration (Darling-Hammond, 2010, p. 244-264). She provides examples how five high schools in New York and five in California have used the practices to bring successful learning outcomes to its learners. Though the examples provided are from high schools, the practices have been found to breed success in the elementary and secondary schools (Darling-Hammond, 2010, p. 244). Structures that Allow for Personalization and Strong Relationships In addition to smaller class size, student-teacher relationships show an increase in student performance as long as the relationship is positive and continuously supports not only academics but the individual and connections with family (Darling-Hammond, 2010, p. 246). My school identifies itself as being the “Orange Grove Family”. We have the quality curriculum and academic supports in place, and our numbers and state report card back our claims to success. However, I feel like we do not provide the emotional supports and individual connections for our fifth graders. Towards the end of the year, the classroom teachers tell me how bad their students are while standing in front of them in the hallway as they are waiting to come into my class. I see it as a pattern each year with the teachers’ attitudes. I can list at least one positive trait for each member of one of the classes, while their teacher blames having been dealt a bad hand. He has admitted verbally to me that he does not have one “good” student in his class. As a result of the negativity, the students rebel, withdraw and/or live up to their teachers’ negative expectations. They may even carry with them a negative attitude towards middle school and learning in the future. The students need to feel recognized and known as individuals. They need to feel important in their community. I would like to design a community meeting structure and help implement it into the fifth-grade morning routine. I would like to see the whole 5th grade come together in the multi-purpose room for a morning ritual. They could each have responsibilities, such as set up, break down, speaker, and readers of morning thoughts and goals. I work with the counselors in the school, as I have created a group for girls with anxiety around grades and performance, “Girl N Sync”. I would like to practice some of the mental activities and relaxation methods into the meetings. I believe the counseling team would support me in this endeavor. We will have to receive approval from the principal. I can see a conflict with the Walk to Read program, so I will need to gather data from research that shows the benefits of such a morning routine and sense of community on student performance. I believe I can keep it to a15-minute layout with 5 minutes for set up and breakdown before and after the meeting. I believe the counselors have the resources and knowledge that support the claims to improved student performance to support...
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