Decades of research provide insight into how to design schools to support the whole child. Effective school design not only provides high-quality academic learning but promotes strong interpersonal relationships and authentic and culturally sustaining instruction. The evidence points to core strategies schools can use to rethink structures to promote critical connections and student-centered learning, including the following:
- Smaller schools and learning communities, in which teachers work in teams with shared groups of students organized by grade levels or themes, such as in the Linked Learning model, which integrates college and career preparation.
- Advisory systems, in which a small number of students meet regularly with a teacher—often over multiple years—to address academic and social-emotional issues, build community, and facilitate connections with families
- Grade-to-grade looping, in which a teacher stays with the same class for more than 1 year, developing strong relationships and trust with their students and families
- Collaborative planning and professional development time for teachers who work in grade-level and interdisciplinary teams to create coherent and engaging lessons and projects
- Connections with parents and the broader community through practices such as parent–teacher home visits and community–school partnerships