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The "Big-Fish-Little-Pond" Effect

Weekly Update from the Director – March 29, 2024
Dear GISC Community,
In its 15th year, the German International School Chicago is characterized as a small institution, with most grade levels currently comprising one section per grade. However, our school will eventually transit towards a model featuring two sections per grade, aligning with our enrollment objectives and projections. Even if our current K-8 configuration is defined as small-sized, surpassing an enrollment of 300 students would classify us as mid-sized. Our strategic objectives envision a school with over 250 students by 2030, including an emerging high school.
Questions often arise about the advantages of a small school, often accompanied by concerns that such an environment may shelter students from the "real world." However, I challenge this notion of the "real world," questioning whether environments with hundreds of students truly reflect reality. In such large settings, students may struggle to feel known and acknowledged, potentially leading to feelings of invisibility. Social scientists recognize this as the "Big-Fish-Little-Pond" effect, where a child's academic and social self-concept is nurtured in smaller settings, as explored by Malcolm Gladwell in his book "David and Goliath."
At GISC, we prioritize community-building among both students and parents. Our smaller classrooms foster easy connections and interactions, benefiting our students' development. Drawing from my experience at GISC and other institutions, I've observed that students from smaller schools adapt well to larger environments due to their healthy and confident self-concept nurtured in these smaller ponds.
All the best,
The German International School Chicago (GISC) is an IB World School that prepares students to become well-rounded, creative, and responsible global citizens. We provide students with a rigorous German-English bilingual education in a supportive and individualized learning environment. GISC graduates will be prepared academically and socially to succeed in an increasingly global world.

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