Monday, January 18, 2010

Let’s Do What Is Best For Kids

I recently finished a passionate discussion with our Building Leadership Team regarding the Master Schedule for next year’s school year. Our group is currently “scattered” on the direction for next year’s schedule, but one thing is for certain, we all have ideas on what “might” work.

Undoubtedly there will be push back from members of the BLT, staff, students, and parents; but I think we need to do things differently. So this time, Let’s Do What Is Best For Kids, not what’s best for us (the adults). And yes, this is going to mean tough decisions, especially in these economic times, because this could mean some of my colleagues might not be back next year. In a small district, many of us think that since we only have one high school math teacher and one junior high math teacher that “our” job is “safe.” But the reality is, none of our positions are safe from the cutting block. But back to my original thought, Let’s Do What Is Best For Kids!

Let’s get the students involved in the process, let’s invite them to the table, empower them to share what works best for them. Then, let’s build the schedule.

Once we’ve done that let’s think about starting earlier or staying later or both. Let’s let teachers come in at 7:00 and go home at 3:00, or roll in at 10:00 but stay until 6:00. Let’s ask teachers if they would like to double their class size and teach a class with a peer from another department. I can see it now, math and science teachers teaching a group of 60 freshmen, with the help of a skilled special education or talented and gifted teacher to help deliver the content, modify assignments, and assess learning in order to stretch the learning of all students.

Let’s get rid of study halls and implement a mentorship program in which students teach one another. Where high school students work with junior high students, and junior high students work with elementary students. Where teammates on the basketball floor help one another to stay eligible because it not only helps them win games, but helps build a sense of community that improves the learning of all.

So if you have any ideas, suggestions, or are currently working in a place that does some of these things, please let me know, because by March 1 our team will have decided what 2010-11 will look like at Van Meter, and one thing is for certain, it’s going to be different. But I want to make sure it is “What Is Best For Kids!”

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