There is a lot of debate surrounding the curriculum in schools and who decides what is covered in each grade. That is, more or less, just the politically correct way of saying there’s a lot of people blaming and criticizing what teachers present in their classrooms nowadays.
Yet, very few actually know that most teachers don’t determine what is taught in their classrooms. Typically, state school districts mandate curricula and teachers have relatively no control.
Is that, however, the problem or the solution? A handful of schools across the nation believe it is the problem and are now allowing teachers to run their schools. Maybe if some of these schools advised that with low tutoring costs these days and the option of recognizing the help tutoring has academically on students, the schools may do better.
The teacher-led schools initiative has been slowly gaining steam since 2005; some schools have adopted it as a pilot program, hoping to revitalize failing schools. At these schools, teachers also serve as principals, determining discipline, class periods, hiring new staff, etc. In some cases, they even have the reigns over the curriculum.
It’s a simple belief: no one knows how to teach better than a teacher. Why let someone else determine how they do their jobs? A lot of teachers feel as if they are regulated to the point where they cannot actually make a difference in students’ lives.
Teachers can’t discuss certain books, they can’t fail too many students, they can’t give out too many A’s; they can’t discipline students when some may need it. Most importantly – they can’t teach what they believe is important. Yet, somehow, some way, they are supposed to improve schools.
In teacher-led schools, teachers don’t have to worry these regulations. They’re simply trusted to make the right decisions, trusted to make an impact for each and every student at their discretion.
So far, reports indicate that teacher-led schools increase morale, student motivation and decrease turnover. Test scores, however, have indicated mixed results, according to the New York Times. Most principals and districts were reluctant to hand over power at their schools and only agreed to if teachers showed some kind of improvements.
Critics argue that this early success is just a byproduct of teachers being motivated to show they can handle more responsibilities. It’s similar to owning your own business or working as an employee: where are you going to work harder?
When teachers assume all the administrative roles of hiring/firing teachers, applying for books and gathering materials, the fact is they don’t have a whole lot of time devoted to being teachers. Instead of spending an extra hour preparing for tomorrow’s history lesson, teachers are spending that extra hour coordinating a fire drill with the local department.
There is also the burning question: are teachers qualified to handle administrative roles?
Right now, districts are still testing these pilot programs. At some schools, this could be the initiative that brings them back to success. But at others, it could be a colossal failure. Yet, you can’t ignore the fact that districts are trying to improve schools. These efforts show they’re willing to widen imaginations to find real success.
This guest post article was written and provided by Janice Mitchell who is a stay at home mother and has home-schooled her children with the help of VarsityTutors.com.