Schools, despite being the most wonderful places to work, can also be frustrating and painful places to be at times.
School leaders are charged with the responsibility of instilling the highest level of professionalism in their colleagues. Unfortunately, it is a undeniable fact that some teachers do a better job than others. The differences that one can see between teachers is wide-ranging. Some teachers are great at collaborating whilst others are reluctant to share and engage with others. Many teachers are great at giving students valuable feedback for learning while others are far less effective. A good number of teachers ensure that they act in the highest professional manner, however, we would be naive not to think that some teachers cut corners falling well short of their professional obligations.
After an indoor track practice on a recent Wednesday evening, students gathered in John Heath’s Owego Middle School classroom. They perched on desks, lean legs swinging, and talked about the impact Heath, a seventh-grade science teacher, had on their lives.
Outside the classroom, that is.
Like many educators, Heath, 41, isn’t a teacher just between school bells. He’s head of the Blue Horizons science club. He’s a respected track, indoor track and cross country coach. He’s even spearheading a new youth running program for the Boys & Girls Club of Western Broome County.
This notion of careful curriculum design and planning is something that I believe is vital to improving student learning in a school. This is particularly true given teacher differences with a school and between schools.
In the context of this post, learning by ‘chance’ is to mean that learning happens completely randomly; it will largely depend on the student’s teacher and what they do and do not do in the classroom.
I have seen it from both sides now. I have seen parents and students come and see me to request that they avoid a particular teacher or be placed in a particular teacher’s classroom. As a relatively new parent myself, I have thought about the chances that this year will be a good or not so good learning year for my son.