What’s The Next Big Idea? Microschool Networks

April 11, 2017
Getting Smart

By Tom Vander Ark and Megan Mead

Have a good learning idea? Try it with six kids tomorrow, plan an after-school event for next week or advertise a week long summer school opportunity. If that works, launch a small school for 15 students in the fall.

Microschools have been popping up around the country for the last decade. New learning tools and strategies have made the opportunity to open “microschools” as a school-within-a-school or as a low-cost private school a lot easier. Microschools serve 15 to 150 students and, as illustrated by CottageClass in Brooklyn, may be full or part-time learning experiences for P-12 students.

The question now becomes how to make it easier to launch schools and enroll students. Enter microschool networks–loose and tight affiliations of teacher-led schools that provide platforms, instructional materials, professional learning, enrollment and back office support.

Matt Candler is founder of 4.0 Schools, a national community of people testing new designs in schools, and sees new interest in microschools all over the country. “We’re see growing interest in microschools from people you might expect, entrepreneurial educators eager to try a new approach to learning at a small, humanizing scale. But we’re also seeing interest from unusual suspects like superintendents curious about the power of microschooling within a district. That’s really exciting. We’re adapting our pop-up and field trial investment programs so anyone can learn to create smaller, more modular learning spaces that work for all kids.”

Microschools created the space for teachers and school leaders to rethink school on a small scale. As with anything, however, working in isolation can be draining and inefficient. Microschool networks have the ability to create powerful learning while leaning on the network effect to scale and increase impact. Read more…