Case Study 1

28 Jan

During the case study presented in class today, I was assigned to be a teacher at Plainview school. It was eerie for me to consider how similar Plainview school was to my own high school back home. Surprisingly, upon hearing that Buffalo Ridge School would be closing and all of their students and staff would be attending Plainview, I felt a surge of adrenaline. I am the sort of person that strives in high stress situations, particularly when they involve a large group or community working together as a whole. Because of this, my initial reaction to the school merger was, “yay!” followed by a realistic and somewhat sobering appraisal of everything that would be involved in the merger.

My initial thought regarding what would need to transpire in order to attempt a smooth transition was that we needed to prepare the students. Because I attended a small rural school, I intimately understand the small town mentality. My school did not have any First Nations or Métis students and the one time we did have a First Nations student I am ashamed to admit that we did not make him feel welcome whatsoever. With this memory in mind, I shared with the group that we would need to gather small groupings of students from both schools together before the merger so that they could share meaningful experiences and get to know one another. Some other suggestions that really stood out to me included assessing where each student is functioning at prior to their entering Plainview so as to ensure appropriate placement. It was also suggested that there would be a great need to mix up the students and ensure that each classroom contained students from both schools.

Some of the assumptions that our group expressed included the innate and harmful idea that “our system is better than whatever system you were/are employing to educate your students.” Along with this dangerous mentality we expressed the assumption that because Buffalo Ridge was entering “our” school, we would somehow consider ourselves superior to the other students and staff.

Because of the assumptions that we very openly shared with one another, we recognized that we would likely anticipate a certain degree of tension and conflict between the staff and students of these two schools. We felt that some team building between the two staff groups might help to alleviate some of this tension, perhaps in the form of a collective mission statement revision on part of all staff. There were also discussions around providing bullying seminars, professional development opportunities and school guidelines to deal with the issue. In the end it was stated that as teachers we essentially would need to relinquish all of our ideals, plans and the control we felt we had over the school year in favor of a more open and willing attitude.

This open attitude discussed at the end of the case study period is one thing that I really took home. We ran out of time to fully discuss the implications of having an open mind and this is definitely something I would like to explore further. In terms of questions, I would have been curious to ask each of the other educators in my group where they personally were at with this merger. I believe having a very upfront and honest appraisal of our individual frames of mind would speak volumes about where this merger would need to begin for the staff at Plainview school, and what all would need to be accomplished, both individually and collectively. Had we the time I likely would have asked, though I also felt hampered by the immediacy of answering each of the questions outlined and felt that my group mates wouldn’t appreciate a lengthy discussion such as I had considered bringing up.

For my part, the statements most alive in me at the end of this case study were twofold. First, I strongly believe that it would be essential to have opportunities for small groups of students, made up of students from both schools, to build meaning together by participating in various group activities. These activities could simply be “getting to know you” activities, but could also span to group problem solving activities like tipi raising, building a fire, etc. The second thing alive in me at this time is the need for me to be absolutely honest with myself and my fellow staff around my personal degree of openness. As part of this I feel it would be important to recognize areas within myself that remain closed and to deeply consider why I feel that way. Whether it’s a strong adherence to my unit plans and what I had envisioned for the school year, or simply a desire to maintain the class list I have at present, a thorough evaluation of my own personal openness to the merger would be absolutely essential.

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One Response to “Case Study 1”

  1. Emily Mann February 16, 2012 at 1:06 am #

    In response to this first case study assignment, I can see several different paths that could be taken following my group’s meeting. The area that I think would be the most beneficial at this time is a focus on community building between schools. No matter how connected teachers are before, during, and after this merger, the merger will be extremely painful if students can not relate to each other on some common ground. This community building could take many forms: perhaps a co-operative learning activity on a selected topic, an outing, or a project within the community. I think the key to this community building is small groups of around 10 students with each school equally represented.

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