CLC: An investigation of social climate

by Malena Moore

 

During the Spring of 2000, I had the opportunity to spend time observing and talking with members of Centre Learning Community Charter School as they closed in on the completion of their second year in operation. My goal was to gain a better understanding of the social climate of the school. I had been volunteering with the school since its inception. My interest in the charter school movement as well as an underlying interest in adolescent social culture moved me to take on this investigation. The following pages contain vignettes from my study at CLC. It is my hope that with each story you will gain a clearer picture of the community that has been established under the name of CLC. Each vignette is followed-up with a discussion of the issues made evident in the story.

Vignette #1: A Typical Day at CLC

It’s just before lunchtime on a typical day at CLC. I am standing in Mark’s classroom in the "new building." Team 3 students have spent the last couple of hours working on their legislative process project. Mark has gathered the students at the front of the room in the "pit." Some students sit on a conglomeration of chairs while others sit on the floor covered with gray industrial type carpet. The students have separated themselves by gender with the girls sitting on one side of the "pit" under the white board and the boys sitting on the opposite side. Mark is sitting in the middle, reviewing the morning activities, and preparing his students for what is to come after lunch. Just as they are finishing up their conversation, a loud commotion distracts everyone. Mark’s home team, Team 2, is returning for lunch. "Michael, Seth, what does it look like we are doing here? Please wait in the hall while we finish our meeting!" Mark exclaims. The level in the hall is reduced to a small roar.

As soon as Mark dismisses Team 3 for lunch, there is a flurry of activity. Team 3 students gather their belongings and head for their building while Team 2 students filter in and find their places for lunch. It’s fairly easy to distinguish Team 2 students from Team 3 students merely by size. Team 3 students are 5th and 6th graders and are considerably smaller than the 6th and 7th graders of Team 2.

I see Heather, Troy, Ethan, Stu, Brandon, and Ben head into the larger workroom and gather around the table. Heather sits at the corner of the table closest to the microwave. They open up their lunches and start chatting. There is a real upbeat feel in the room. There’s lots of laughter and conversation. The group checks out one another’s lunches and some trades are made. I reenter the large room where I find a few students working at computers. Most likely these students are not CLC card bearers and therefore must work through the first half-hour of lunch. They will eat lunch at 12:30. In the pit there is another group of students eating.

I find Kara, Rachelle, Kristin, Kelly, Seth, Shane, Angie, Henry, and Dick downstairs in the "big room." The big room is a large rectangular room with gray cement block walls and gray industrial type carpet. Over the last few weeks the drab walls have slowly been transformed into beautiful murals by the art club. There are only a few long, narrow windows along one wall, so most of the room’s light comes from the florescent lights lining the ceiling. Some of the lights show the scars of dodge balls and soccer balls kicked a little too hard. As the group sits around a cafeteria type table that they’ve set up, there is a lot of teasing among the boys and girls. Some of the girls are eating, but others are not. There is some whispering and an outburst of giggles before Kara gets up and starts chasing Michael around the room. I do not know what was said. When the girls finish eating, they gather on the old gray couch that is partially secluded by a half wall in a corner at the opposite end of the room. The whispers and giggles continue.


Today only a few kids from the other building have ventured to the big room for lunch &emdash; so, it is mostly Team 2 occupying the room. Theresa, the teaching assistant for Team 3, announces that it is time to clean up the tables. Almost immediately students jump into action. A couple students gather the trash and take it to the dumpster. Others use an abundance of spray cleaner to wipe the tables before they are folded and put away. The weather is gloomy, so students will have to use the big room for run around time rather than going to the field. Just as things are cleaned up, Team 1 students and a few Team 3 students charge the room -- ready for an intense dodge ball game. Almost with a blink of an eye teams are formed and the games begin. Which team one is on does not seem to matter &emdash; they just want to play and have a good time. The noise level in the room raises considerably and the game becomes more intense. There are 20 some kids playing dodge ball of which about 6 or 7 are girls. While all of the girls are from Team 1, most of the boys are from Teams 1 and 3. Shane, Seth, Michael, and Henry float in and out of the game. They play for a bit and then they join the girls on the couch for a bit. The original group of girls on the couch has now been joined by a group of girls from Team 3. They have turned on the radio and some are dancing about.

I decide to check things out upstairs. As I venture up the uninviting staircase, I am passed by Brook and Andrea who run giggling into the bathroom. Leigh, Courtney, and Aimee soon follow them. The girls remain in the bathroom for quite a bit of time whispering and giggling. When I enter the bathroom they stop and look at me. They are huddled in a circle in front of the sink.

In Mark’s classroom the non-card bearing students are eating lunch in the pit area and are talking to Mark. Ethan, Stu, and Troy sit side-by-side at computers playing chess. I do not know if they are competing against each other or their computers. Rhonda and Brandon are in the back row of computers. Each is working on their respective current events project. Occasionally they stop to chat. Heather and Troy sit at neighboring computers in the next row also working on CE. Fletcher and Bryce sit alone each at a computer towards the front of the room. As I turn around, students from Team 3 are returning signaling that lunch is over. Team 2 students get up slowly, gather their things, and head back to Josephine’s room for afternoon project time. Rachelle enters the room as if to gather Rhonda before she leaves the building. The girls from Team 3 enter the room in a huddle similar to that which I witnessed in the bathroom. It’s time to get back to work!

Facilities

CLC is a charter school operating in its second year in a University town. Finding appropriate facilities for the growing school was a challenge. So, although not ideal, they ended up in two separate buildings divided by a street and parking lot. Teams 1 and 3 work in classrooms in UBBC while Team 2 is across the street in the "new building." The physical structure of the two buildings provides for very different learning and social environments. In addition, the separation of the school into two buildings provides for different dynamics than if all students were housed under one roof.

The original space CLC leased was in a wing of a church. CLC’s founders were fortunate enough to happen across this space which had just been vacated by a private school relocating to a new facility. The space consists of two classrooms and a third room that in the first year was used as an office and lunchroom, but now houses the school’s growing library and art space. The two classrooms sit on top of one another and are laid out similarly. Desks topped with iMacs, G3s, and printers line the three inner walls. The outer wall of large, windows and bookshelves is home to stacks of books and resources. The center of each room contains movable tables and chairs that facilitate various groupings and layouts. A large carpet square covers the beige tile along the bookshelves on which an entire team can gather. The teachers’ desks are topped with projectors attached to laptop computers for presentations. In Team 1’s room the beige walls are lined with posters pertaining to their human body project, writing posters, and school announcements. A section of one wall is devoted to a white board, while another section is saved as an area for projection. With the onset of Spring, I notice vases of fresh flowers on the windowsill behind Josephine’s desk. Team 3’s room is similar to that of Team 1. Letters about a foot high spell out words such as respect and responsibility around the room. Other space on the walls is devoted to maps for the geography projects. Around the top of the room are silhouette collages of each Team 3 student that were created at the beginning of the school year. I notice that the furniture in the rooms is a bit of a mish-mash. Some of the furniture was ordered from your typical school supply catalog; however, a lot more of it was picked up at salvage sales. The rooms used by Teams 1 and 3 are very open and bright with natural light.

The new space, which is referred to by members of the CLC community as the "new building," is caddy-corner across the street from UBBC. The new building is shared between CLC and a local massage school. When you enter the building you are faced with a dingy metal staircase which is not very inviting. If you go upstairs, you will find a hallway with doorways into the boys and girl’s locker rooms. The previous occupier of this space was a gym. So, bathrooms double as locker rooms. As you walk down the gray industrial type carpet, you can’t help but stop and look at students’ posters of their proposed CLC Preambles and Bills of Rights that line the gray walls. At the end of the hallway you see before you a long, large room that is a very different kind of classroom. On the left-hand side of the room are six rows of iMacs sitting back to back on top of long gray tables. To your right are a series of doors. The first door takes you to the "playground" &emdash; a small workroom that was painted and appropriately named by a group of students. There is a large round table circled with chairs in the center of the room. Along one wall is an old drafting table topped with an electronic keyboard and an old paper cutter. The next room is the server room. Along the back wall of this room are the school’s server and the computer that runs it. Along the sidewall is the desk of Brian, Team 2’s teaching assistant. The next door takes you into a workroom that is a bit larger. A larger rectangular table circled with chairs sits in the middle of the room. A microwave sits atop a shelf in one corner while an older G3 sits in the opposite corner.

After the doors is a cabinet topped with cubbyholes. The cabinet and cubbies are filled with various supplies. At the front of the large room is a new G3 connected to a projector, which shines on a homemade, makeshift screen. To the right of the screen is a large white board that outlines the days schedule and some leftover math notes. This area, which is referred to by members of CLC as "the pit" is circled by a few chairs. Next to the white board is yet another door. This door leads to a short hallway that houses the networked printer and leads to the "space room." The space room was decorated by a group of students at the beginning of the year. All walls and the window are covered with black paper. The black paper is decorated with reflective papers and paints depicting stars and planets. The furniture in the room consists of a long table, two desk chairs, and two gray lounge chairs. In the large room across from the pit sits a small desk and set of bookshelves used by Mark, Team 2’s lead teacher. The bookshelf is topped with a collection of Tiggers that have been given to him by students. The remaining shelves are filled with books and software. Next to the shelf is another whiteboard that is used to list the names of students who need to turn in work. Hanging on the edge of the board are CLC cards. Unlike the space in UBBC, Team 2’s space is not blessed with a great deal of natural light. Overhead fluorescent lights supplement the little light provided by a few long, narrow windows. Lots of furniture and equipment are jammed into the spaces in the new building. At times it seems as if people are barely squeezing by each other to get where they need to go.

Students of CLC have a card that entitles them to a set of privileges. Among those privileges is the ability to use almost any of the space available. If a student feels most comfortable sitting alone in a side room, or lying on the carpet to complete a project, then so be it. Students are well aware that they can move freely in the space, but that at the same time cards can be taken by a teacher for inappropriate behavior or not completing work on time.

Research has suggested that students are most likely to be friends with peers who they are close to in proximity. In addition, Furlong argues that social groups are not static but rather fluid dependent on activity, teacher, and circumstances. The layout of the physical structure of CLC limits the proximity of groups of students as well as the fluidity of students’ movements between social groups. The three teams of students are divided between two buildings with a street separating them creating a level of division and barrier to social movement.

Although the facilities of CLC decrease to a degree the amount of fluidity between social groups, there are benefits to the physical structure of the school. The learning environment created at CLC is open and flexible -- allowing students to gather and work collaboratively. The open classroom has been found to be an environment conducive to peer acceptance . A study conducted by Hallinan (1976) found that traditional classrooms create more extremely popular and extremely unpopular students than do open classrooms.

A school is much more than a building. However, the physical facilities housing a school can have a great impact on the social climate of the school. From my observations it is clear that CLC’s facilities are not optimal for creating a close, caring community. But, it also appears that work has been done to overcome the limitations set forth by the physical structure of the school.

Vignette #2: Who hangs out with who? Piece of cake!

It’s a cool morning in early April. Kara and I sit in an office of the Head of School. She yawns as she sits twisting in the office chair. With much confidence and ease she answers my question regarding the kids she hangs out with at school. She states, "My best friend is Kelly. Um, I’m usually with her. Or, when I’m not with her it’s Kristin or Rhonda or Rachelle or Heather or Angie --- of course she’s [Angie] in the other class so I don’t get to see her very much." After Kara answers my question, I present her with an activity. "Ok, on this stack of cards I’ve written the name of each student at CLC. I’d like you to arrange the cards according to who you think hangs out with who." I explain. Quickly Kara picks the cards up from the desk and starts placing individual cards in clusters. She begins to say, "This is going to be easy." But, then she pauses for a moment as she looks at a name on a card. She continues, "Well, except for Team 3. I don’t know all of them that well. I haven’t known them as long."

School Organization

CLC is split into three teams of 24 students each. Teams 1 and 2 are made up of 6th and 7th graders while Team 3 consists of 5th and 6th graders. Students from Teams 1 and 2 are in their second year at the CLC while Team 3’s students are in their first year at the school. Other than before school time, math, lunchtime, field-time, and after-school time, a majority of the students’ time is spent with the members of their home teams. So, it is natural that social clusters are predominantly team-based.

From my observations, I developed a map of the social clusters of the school. I noted with whom students hung out, who they sat with during sustained, silent reading, with whom they ate lunch, etc. Furlong argues that groups are not static but rather fluid dependent on activity and teacher. The idea that group membership varies according to activity is repeated by Griffiths who states, "...pupil interaction does not always include friends and can vary frequently according to circumstances (p. 100)." Therefore, I also noted if the personal interactions changed according to the activity in which they were engaged.

I discovered that social clusters were predominantly team-based. The idea of team-based social clusters was also illustrated by Kara’s statements in Vignette #2. More support for this idea was discovered through an interview with Joanne. When I asked Joanne to tell me why she hangs out with Susan, Becky, Dee, Yvonne, Danielle, and Angie, she explained, "They are all in my class." During my observations I noted that there are a few students who leave their home-team cluster during lunch or after-school time. The fluidity between clusters was predominantly due to choice of activity. Students from all teams joined together for a soccer or dodge ball game, art club, or homework help.

According to Brown, Mory, and Kinney adolescents are more likely to become friends with kids who live near them or who are in the same classroom as them. Rubin, Lynch, Coplan, Rose-Krasnor, and Booth suggest that adolescents choose friends who are similar to themselves. The ideas of Brown, Mory, and Kinney were evident in my initial observations -- CLC kids are more likely to be friends with students who are on their home Team. Further observations and interviews revealed that the cohesiveness of teams is in a way also related to the theory of Rubin, et. al. I noticed that the students on Team 1 are in many ways similar to each other. Their dress is similar. They have some of the same interests. In addition, they seem to be at the same developmental stage. The students on Team 2 also have similarities among themselves. I found the styles, interests, and developmental stages of the students on Team 3 to be less homogenous. The similarities among the members of Teams 1 and 2 are not necessarily the results of student choice. Rather, the homogeneity of teams is the fallout of intentional groupings made by the teachers.

During the first weeks of first year of school all CLC students worked together with the intention that they would not split into classes or teams. However, it became clear to the teachers that the 48 original students needed to be split into two teams. Teams were based on information gathered through intake interviews conducted with parents and students before school opened as well as observations from the first weeks' interactions. I believe that such a process resulted in homogenous clusters of students who interacted well together and formed tight friendships. When the third team entered CLC at the beginning of the second year, such a process was not completed and all new students were simply put on one team. Although creating teams with such make-ups was not the intent of the school, it resulted in an interesting social dynamic. This dynamic is especially noticeable among the girls at CLC. The girls from Team 1 are very close. They are very into learning and being active. During my time spent at CLC if these girls were not reading, discussing books, or working on a project, they were engaged in a tough game of dodge ball or soccer. These girls were described by many of their classmates as the "nice girls." The girls on Team 2 also are very close. However, their interests and activities are very different from the Team 1 girls. The girls of Team 2 are more into the social scene. They have progressed to a stage when they are interested in boys. So, their clothes, hair, and overall appearance were foremost on their minds. Team 2 girls were described by their peers as "girly girls" and "popular girls." The Team 3 girls seemed to be split &emdash; some identifying more with the girls of Team 1 while others seeing themselves as being more similar to the girls of Team 2. I found it quite fascinating to observe the impact of methods of organizing students into teams on the social climate of the entire school.

Research conducted by Smith and Gregory revealed that the informal and flexible organization of smaller schools allows them to maintain a stronger sense of community. A review of research on middle schools conducted by Cotterell also cited size and organization as factors impacting the type of community that can be established. Cotterell indicated that the frequent class changes and large size of traditional middle schools creates for a more impersonal social environment. CLC is a small school serving middle school age students. At the time of this study only 72 students were enrolled in the school and it will never grow beyond 250 students. Members of the CLC community recognize the significance of their small size. During my interview with Kristin, I asked her what she liked best about CLC. She responded, "I think the best thing about being at CLC is how well I know everyone….So, I like it here where everybody knows me &emdash; they know my name &emdash; they know &emdash; in bigger schools you’d recognize peoples’ faces, but you don’t know anything about them unless you’re one of their close friends. But, here at CLC we are all &emdash; we’re everyone’s friends. So, I like that."

Vignette #3: We the People of CLC

The school year is coming to an end, but CLC students are going strong &emdash; the CLC Congress is in session. The "big room" has been transformed with students sitting by party, the speaker of the House behind a podium at the front of the room, and the proposed bills projected on a screen from a computer in the middle of the room. The Republicans bring a bill penned by the Respect and Responsibility Committee to the floor. Each party is given an opportunity to address the house with regard to the proposed bill. I am distracted by the crew of students filming the proceedings, but am drawn back when I hear Leah’s timid voice asking to take the floor. She approaches the microphone and states, "This school is all about working things out." I am amazed that this shy, Team 3 student has had the guts to stand and address her peers. As members of all parties applaud, she sits down and another student takes the floor. It is discovered that there is a grammatical error with the proposed bill. Quickly the Respect and Responsibility Committee is called together to make the appropriate changes to the bill.

Respect for All

The CLC Congress was the culminating event to the Legislative Process project that students undertook during the second half of the year. As part of that project, each student was required to write a Preamble and Bill of Rights for the school. This activity required that every student seriously think about the type of community in which they wanted to learn and spend the majority of their day. I must say that I was amazed with the products I viewed. What struck me the most with the appearance of the students’ products was the melding of technology use and appreciation for history. Looking at the posters lining the hallway, I realized that almost all of the Preambles and Bills were typed &emdash; producing neat, legible print through the use of technology. Despite the use of the latest technology, the posters appeared a bit antique. The students’ understanding and appreciation for history showed through with font and paper choices. Many students chose fancy, script or calligraphy-like fonts printed on a paper that resembled parchment. Some students took the historic look to a higher level by burning the edges of the paper. Beyond my amazement with the look of the students’ projects, I was in awe of the students’ comprehension and expression of the need to respect not only themselves but others too. This call for respect was worded differently in Preambles from Team 3 students:

  • "…we will respect others and their belongings…"

    "…respect our friends, teachers, and ourselves…"

    "…respect ourselves and others…"

  • While enhancing social climate was not the focus of the Legislative Process project and the CLC Congress, the two activities influenced the students’ sense of community and ownership in their school. These projects built upon the sense of community already established at CLC. According to Cotterell such community building efforts promote "positive influences over young people's development (p. 206)."

     

    Vignette #4: It’s About Fitting the Image

    After Kristin completed putting the index cards into clusters according to who at CLC hangs out together, I ask her to describe each of the groups for me. "I don’t like to label people", she tells me. I explain that I am not asking her to place labels on people, rather I want her to describe each group. After she characterizes each of the groups, I ask her if her social group would be open to letting someone new into their group. She looks at me sort of shyly as she fixes the barrettes in her hair then begins, "It would depend who. I don’t think that a lot of people could get in really, I mean, I hate that, but, like if a new person came in and we’d be checking them out to see if they measure up to what we’d want them to be." She pauses for a moment and then continues, "I think a lot of it has to do with the way people look. I ask her to explain what she means by ‘how people look.’ She explains, "Like, how they dress. Yea, how they act. That’s really dumb, but I remember when Audra came in -- Kelly was like, she was like, ‘Why don’t we have any popular people coming into our school?’ Cause like, I guess by the way that Audra was dressed Kelly automatically assumed that Audra wasn’t anyone that she wanted to be associated with. I really didn’t like that."

     

    I take down what she is saying and then ask her again why she wouldn’t consider Jenny a part of her social group. Kristin wriggles a bit in the chair showing a lot of discomfort in discussing this issue. She begins slowly and then her speech picks up pace, "Like she tries so hard to be one of us, but, then she like &emdash; it’s like &emdash; all the time in the morning she tries to laugh and tries to be our friend, but it’s sort of like she tries too hard…she doesn’t fit the image we have for everything. If you don’t fit the image, it doesn’t work."

    Acceptance of Individuals

    According to Brown, Mory, and Kinney although adolescents decline from assigning membership status to peer crowds, they are often eager to characterize crowds. They explain that characterizations often include descriptions of physical appearances or behaviors. The CLC students interviewed did not show eagerness in assigning membership or characterizing members of their community. During the interviews each student took the time to make it clear that although there are small social clusters or groups, everyone in the school gets along. They also noted that it is common for students to be part of more than one social group. The idea that CLC is a small community in which everyone is close and individuals belong to multiple social groups is supported by a study conducted by Smith and Gregory that compared the social cultures of a large and small high school in the same town. Smith found that social groups in a small school are less distinct and more permeable than groups in a large school.

    The statements made by Kristin during our interview are not indicative of lack of acceptance of individuals at CLC. Rather they are representative of natural adolescent behavior. During adolescence individuals are drawn to and socialize with those who are most similar to them whether it be due to a style manifested in clothing, hairstyles, speech, and behavior; or the activities in which they participate . Brown, Mory, and Kinney discuss the literature surrounding the permeability of crowds. By this they mean the ability for someone new to enter a previously formed social group. Their review shows a split in study results. Some studies (e.g. Cusik, 1973; Schofield, 1981; and Eder, 1985) have shown that crowds are antagonistic and impermeable. Other studies (e.g. Larkin, 1979; Kinney, 1993) depict crowds as more open to interactions between groups and suggest that permeability increases as students progress through school. Being that the students at CLC are at the early stages of adolescence it seems natural to predict that individual acceptance and permeability of social groups will increase as the students progress through adolescence.

     

    Vignette #5: An Apology to Remember

    It’s one of my last day of observations and I am sitting with Rhonda in Mark’s classroom. She is working on her Current Events report and asks me to listen as she reads aloud. Before she begins, Rachelle and Kristin pull up chairs next to us. Rhonda is half-way through her report when Bryce approaches us, "Uh, um, uh, Rhonda?", he manages to get out through stutters. Rhonda looks up with a puzzled look on her face and says, "Yeah!" Bryce takes a step back, his head hung low, and tries to get the words out. But, it is not easy for him to say what he wants to say. Finally, I piece together his words and realize that he is apologizing for yelling at Rhonda earlier in the day. He explains to her that he came to realize that she did not do anything to the computer game he was building and he knew he was wrong to yell at her. Knowing Bryce, I am shocked at his gallant effort to make an apology. At the same time, I am praying that Rachelle and Kristin don’t giggle in his face. I am pleasantly relieved when Kristin says, "Ahh, Bryce that was really nice!" Rachelle quickly adds, "Yeah, that was really nice." Rhonda does not speak &emdash; she seems shocked. Bryce quickly turns, head held high, and walks back to the computer he was using at the front of the room. Tears filled my eyes and I was brimming with pride at what had just happened before me. All I could think of was &emdash; what a caring place! Wish I had gone to a school like this!

    Caring

    CLC recently adopted a motto, "Minds that think, Hearts that care, and the Confidence to make things happen." The school was built with the desire to have a community of caring people &emdash; teachers, students, parents, and volunteers. The deep sense of caring that permeates CLC came through in my observations, interviews, and analysis of documents.

    Again the Preambles produced by students on Team 3 were helpful in getting a sense of the type of community of which they wanted to be a part. Students’ Preambles included words such as:

    "…we will care for other people as we care for ourselves…"

    "…be caring people…"

    "…help others…"

    In an attempt to get a better idea of the social climate of the school through the eyes of the students, I asked volunteers to take pictures of their community. After collecting the cameras from the students and getting the film developed, more evidence of caring and support surfaced. One of the pictures was of a large poster in Team 1’s classroom. The poster read "Good Luck Joanne!" and was signed by members of the team. Later I asked Joanne what the poster was for. She informed me that she was preparing to compete in a track meet and her classmates were showing their support. The track team she is a member of is not affiliated with CLC and none of her schoolmates are on the team. It seemed to mean a lot to her to get such support. Another picture is of Kara and Henry in Team 2’s classroom. Kara drew a big "Happy Birthday Henry!" message on the white board at the front of the room. Both Kara and Henry were all smiles in the picture. From brief conversations with Henry, I know that he felt as if he did not fit in at his old school. He talked about how kids at his old school picked on him and called him names. But, at CLC he had a place in the community and was supported by his peers. McMillan and Chavis discuss four characteristics of a sense of community. The third characteristic, influence, is the result of members' reciprocal feelings of mattering to the group. The acts of caring I witnessed at CLC are evidence of such positive influence.

    Sense of Community

    I have mentioned the third characteristic of a sense of community as outlined by McMillan and Chavis (1986). I’d now like to touch on the other three characteristics: membership, reinforcement, and shared emotional connection. Membership is a shared belonging or personal relatedness. Integration and need fulfillment among members provides reinforcement for all members of a community. The fourth characteristic, shared emotional connection, is based on shared history and is the definitive element of a true community. McMillan and Chavis explain that the greater investment in the community, the greater the emotional connection. From my observations and interviews it is quite clear that the pioneer CLC students, those students who have been with the school since the first year, have a greater connection to and sense of community based on their shared history.

    During my first few days of observations I thought I saw a bit of a divide between the original two teams and Team 3. However, at the CLC Congress I saw all three teams coming together. They were all working to establish a foundation for their community. It didn’t matter if they were a pioneer or a new student. It didn’t matter if they were in 5th grade or 7th grade. It didn’t matter if they were from this social cluster or that social cluster. What mattered was the fact that they were each a member of Centre Learning COMMUNITY.

    Final Remarks

    After completing this study, I have a new and greater appreciation for the arts of teaching and qualitative research. I can remember vividly the pure exhaustion I felt after my first day of observations at CLC. It took so much energy to keep up with the students. There was so much to see, so much to take in. After collecting a big box of data including observations, interview transcripts, and pictures; I needed to somehow make sense of all of it. Again, I was challenged to muster up the energy to plow through the data.

    CLC is a complex environment and I feel that I have just skimmed the surface. In addition, I did not delve deeply into the adolescent psyche. Therefore, please accept the previous pages for what it is ---- my view of the social climate of CLC.

     


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