Wisdom Wednesday


What does a “good school” look like to you?

Back-to-school time is officially on the horizon. Although we do have plenty of summer fun still to go before the buses start running again, I can’t help but think about the upcoming school year, as it’s my older son’s last year of preschool. Next year this time, we’ll be in a different place. We’ll be meeting a new teacher, touring a new building, figuring out a new routine. The missing piece to this puzzle, at least for us, is where this school will be.

There’s been a lot of discussion — on this website, among my friends, in my home, and in the news — about our schools. What makes a “good school?” How do you decide that a school is “good?” How did you decide where your children would go to school, or how will you decide this when they reach school age? These are daunting questions, at least for me. One thing I am certain of is this question doesn’t have the same answer for everyone…and that’s fine. Kids are different, and our society flourishes because of the different talents and interests of our many citizens…so should our schools all look the same and function in the same way? Does “one size” fit all? Should parents have more choice when it comes to their children’s education?

I’d love to hear what parents are looking for in “good schools” for their children. If you’re in need of inspiration, or if you’re interested in reading one writer and researcher’s thoughts on the topic, check out the list below by Alfie Kohn. Do you agree?

Alfie Kohn’s What to Look for in a Classroom, published in September 1996 in the journal Educational Leadership

5 comments on “Wisdom Wednesday”

  1. As both a mom and a teacher, I believe that every school should strive to maintain a level of frequent communication with families. I regularly call and email all of my students’ homes to share progress, in part because when my son is old enough to go to school I would want his teachers to do the same. Plus it’s always fun to call a parent with good news, especially the ones who used to get “bad” calls from their old schools 🙂

    1. This is SO important. I’m also a mom and teacher (getting back in the classroom after kids and grad school), and I think in some ways, the “good news” calls are even more important than the “bad news” calls. Hearing that your child is doing well, and having a teacher go out of his or her way to tell you this, is awesome. I once had a parent who skipped conferences because she was “sure my daughter is doing fine, her grades are good, so why waste my time”. I felt so bad I wrote up a letter talking about how well she was doing and where there were areas of growth and sent that home…ugh! I’m happy you are a believer in communicating good and bad!!

  2. Such a great question. There’s a lot of things I expect to see in a good school: diversity (in skin tone, SES, ideas, personalities), open spaces (for movement, thought, exploration) and many different learning tools (books, computers, games, craft materials, the list is endless!).

    But more than that, I care about how a school makes me feel. Welcome? Happy? Engaged? If I feel that way walking through the doors, then changes are my children will too.

    1. Yes! I totally agree with these (and you would LOVE Kohn’s list, linked below!!). I agree with what you said about visiting, too. When we moved to the town in which we currently live, I wanted to visit the school…but was afraid of looking like a total lunatic as my son was not quite 1 year at the time! In hindsight, I really wish I’d risked looking crazy and visited because it’s really important. I wish this was more welcomed and encourage in schools by people considering moving to a town.

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