What is a Microschool?
Believe it or not, this is a hard question to answer. Microschools are innovative and new in the education world. As a result, microschools are in their infancy stage. We can look at other articles for the author’s definition of a microschool. Kerry McDonald wrote an article for Forbes stating that microschools “typically have no more than a dozen K-12 students, of varying ages.” Don Soifer wrote for The Nevada Independent that microschools “generally serves fewer than 25 students.” Yet, J.D. Miles of CBSN Dallas-Fort Worth news reported on a microschool that has a “total enrollment for the K-12 school is only 53 students.” Tom Ark for Getting Smart that microschools “serve 15 to 150 students” and “may be full or part-time learning experiences for P-12 students.” McDonald also agreed with the full or part-time model, and further explained that microschools often “operate as a hybrid homeschool.”
With the still developing definition of microschool, I set out to make my own definition. I wanted to design an environment that would be relaxed and comfortable. I believe that if students are relaxed, they are better able to learn. Students will be in multi-aged groups, yet generally separated by lower elementary, upper elementary, and junior high/high school. Younger students look up to older students, and older students learn how to be positive role models and leaders. Through this, students are learning how to communicate with younger and older people, including adults. I wanted individualized instruction in a small group setting. As a result, there will never be more than five students to one teacher. Though a few students may be in the same book, very rarely are they on the exact same page in the book because of the individualized instruction. Elementary students will never have homework. Junior high/high school students have optional homework. I also wanted the students to have the opportunity to be a child and/or pursue their dreams. As a result, students only participate in class for up to three hours a day, and up to four days a week. (Based on the few hours in the classroom, De Beau Microschool would be considered a hybrid-homeschool model.) Meaningful field trips are important to me. I try to schedule no less than four field trips per year. All students, K-12, are invited on the field trips. I also wanted students to have the opportunity to get ahead or catch up in their academics. Therefore, De Beau Microschool operates on a semester system like universities. Students have the option to continue their education throughout the summer.
I put my definition of microschool into action in January of 2015. I started De Beau Microschool with three students. Since then, enrollment has increased year after year. As a result, my staff has grown year after year. I have also expanded from one location to two locations. I plan to continue to grow and to expand. For me, a microschool is about student to teacher ratio, not the total number of students.
Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has become the focus of the world, parents are worried about the education of their children. Will this pandemic have an impact on De Beau Microschool? The short answer is no. The Louisiana Department of Education recently released the Start Strong 2020 guidelines. During the strictest phase, Phase 1, it lists maximum group size of 10, including adult. Based upon the student to teacher ratio of 5 to 1, we will be well within compliance. There are guidelines for many things that do not apply to De Beau Microschool, such as busses and cafeteria. Students are transported to and from school and field trips by their parents/guardians. Students can bring snacks to eat while they work, but De Beau Microschool does not serve daily breakfast or lunch. The cleaning guidelines apply; however, we have been cleaning between groups so that will not be a change for us. We are confident that we can continue to educate our students through this unusual time in history.
Ark, Tom V. (2017). What's The Next Big Idea? Microschool Networks.
Retrieved from: https://www.gettingsmart.com/2017/04/whats-the-next-big-idea-microschool-networks/
Louisiana Department of Education. (2020) Strong Start 2020.
Retrieved from: https://www.louisianabelieves.com/
McDonald, Kerry. (2020). Four K-12 Education Models That May Gain Popularity During COVID-19.
Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kerrymcdonald/2020/05/11/four-k-12-education-models-that-may-gain-popularity-during-covid-19/?fbclid=IwAR1v2UBb27y5i5WEGANB8MD4kebxaTM6zw2PX7hc5F0iBOaC0oguRnCby8I#7bb73cdb6b77
Miles, J.D. (2020). CBSN Dallas-Fort Worth News.
Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUNtzyTCtDg&feature=youtu.be