When you visit The New American Academy, an elementary school serving poor minority kids in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, you see big open rooms with 60 students and four teachers. The students are generally in three clumps in different areas working on different activities. The teachers, especially the master teacher who is floating between the clumps, are on the move, hovering over one student, then the next. It is less like a factory for learning and more like a postindustrial workshop, or even an extended family compound.
The teachers are not solitary. They are constantly interacting as an ensemble. Students can see them working together and learning from each other. The students are controlled less by uniform rules than by the constant informal nudges from the teachers all around.
it does a tremendous job of nurturing relationships. Since people learn from people they love, education is fundamentally about the relationship between a teacher and student.