Teaching without bells: what we can learn from powerful practice in small schools

| January 25, 2011

Title: Teaching without bells : what we can learn from powerful practice in small schools

Author: Joey Feldman

Publisher: Boulder, CO : Paradigm Publishers, c2010

Call no.: LB3012.5 .F45 2010

From the Publisher: Small schools have the potential to fundamentally change the conditions of teaching and learning when practitioners deliberately exploit smallness and recognize relationships as a powerful mechanism for improving student achievement. Feldman explains the dynamics of teaching in a small high school–what having fewer students in a school affords teachers, as well as the challenges for teaching that exist alongside the opportunities–based on research, teacher interviews, and the author’s own experiences as a practitioner in both small and large schools. This book is for any educator or researcher who wants to better understand the kind of promising practices and professional norms that have been nurtured under conditions of smallness. Being informed about what is possible and often facilitated in small schools will enable educators to better reflect on their own practice, consider certain pedagogical strategies against the organizational characteristics of schools, and make educated career choices. Armed with this information, educators and researchers can become more focused in their advocacy efforts and more empowered to improve our public high schools whether by redesigning them into small schools or by transplanting and translating small school practices and strategies.

About the author: Joey Feldman is Director of Secondary Education in Union City, California. In his nearly twenty years in public education, Joey has assisted with the oversight, development, and support of dozens of small schools. He has been a principal of a school-with-a-school and principal of two small charter schools, one of which he helped to establish. He has worked in the New York City Department of Education’s Office of New Schools, and was a Fellow in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of the Secretary.

Prior to his work with small schools, Joey was a high school English and History teacher in Georgia. He has a BA in Humanities from Stanford University, an EdM in Teaching and Learning from Harvard University, and a law degree from New York University. He lives in Oakland, California.

He is the author of “Still Separate, Still Unequal: The Limits of Milliken II’s Monetary Compensation to Segregated Schools,” in Dismantling Desegregation: The Quiet Reversal of Brown v. Board of Education (with S. Eaton and E. Kirby) and “Standing and Delivering on Title VII’s Promises: White Employees’ Ability to Sue Employers for Discrimination Against Nonwhites,” in the Journal for Law and Social Change.

Review: “Joey Feldman skillfully blends thoughtful research with the voices of practitioners, including his own as a former teacher and principal, to showcase the possibilities of personalization in our public high schools. We know that teachers do their best work when they collaborate with and learn from each other, and that students benefit from being well-known participants in a supportive community. This helpful and engaging book describes how these desirable teaching and learning conditions are enhanced when high schools—of any size—figure out how to act small. For those committed to improving our nation’s high schools, this book is an important resource.”
—Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford University