To teachers and students, the principle became a person to resolve the most complicated school issues. If you are not really in trouble, there is no point bothering principals who are busy receiving and implementing instructions from the district supervisors. At the same time, principals have numerous responsibilities regarding teacher evaluation, student discipline, and staff guidance. And though the head teachers are supposed to be balanced within all their roles, in the reality many principals are as overloaded as an ordinary teacher under their supervision.
Although the principal is completely a managerial position, the person remains to be a teacher given extra responsibilities. In some public schools, principals continue teaching on the daily basis. Though classes take time that could be spent on bureaucratic work, teaching is the way for principals to stay in touch with their student. Therefore, head teachers can adequately evaluate problems emerging in the school environment and the best ways to avoid them. Managerial work has lots of requirements, but every good manager has made their way from lower levels to the top. While district supervisors may have no clue about actual school problems, head teachers are sure what their employees and students need. For this reason, every direction “from above” is thoroughly considered by the principal and obviously adjusted to the school realities.
With such broad duties, principals are entitled to be common teachers every now and then. But management shall remain their core responsibility. Effective school programs would not develop by themselves; every new idea shall be questioned and tested to reveal whether it would actually benefit the needs of this particular school.
Our teachers are certainly not like those of our parents. They already left old paper books and grabbed tabs and handouts instead. They refer to online services, social media, search engines to get ready for their work that was hardly imaginable 30 years ago. But everything is supposed to have been better back then, and young teachers-to-be scratch their heads in confusion. Low salaries, overload, a pressure of standardized tests, and difficulty getting a job – that is not what they expected getting a degree.
As many teachers are ready to quit after a deep burnout, people consider them being not enough committed to their work. Indeed, the job has high requirements to the applicants who, in their turn, realize all the responsibility they take. Though the pressure existed in all times, today it has especially exacerbated. Salaries fell behind the inflation, and bureaucracy crept into the classrooms poisoning teaching experience. Besides, teachers seem to have been more independent a couple of decades ago – though a supply-demand correlation does not work in current education, the model “manager-subordinate” precisely reflects relations between principals and teachers. Lacking their autonomy, teachers waste time adjusting to the curricular changes and directions “from above”.
In fact, we cannot estimate how much dedicated are teachers of today because educators have little chance to realize their potential and bring innovation to the classrooms. All we can say, if a newcomer does not quit in a couple of years, they are already dedicated to some extent. But many of those who eventually quit love teaching and students. They just have no chance to thrive in this occupation.
Educators predict a sharp deficit of college graduates in the US coming by 2020 unless the higher education system succeeds to invite more students to state colleges. While the demand for the qualified, properly educated workforce in the economy merely rises, the actual number of applicants with college diploma inevitably drops. Healthcare, education, community service, and science all need a properly educated workforce to expand and develop, not even to mention replacement of retiring baby-boomers in their workplaces.
Despite the looming shortage, many current college graduates do not feel really demanded. Not all of these young people have succeeded to find a profitable job that could compensate for the costs of their tuition. It looks like all the college years and student debt were not worth the mediocre outcome. As a result, high school graduates hesitate to enter state colleges wishing to go earn their money right away.
At the moment, colleges do not particularly encourage students admission. Tuition costs are naturally rising, and the majority of high school graduates come from middle-to-low income families. The next reason for low college graduation rates is a dropout. Coming to campus with high expectations, freshmen realize that they are still unprepared for the first year of college or have chosen the wrong path. Some of them choose to drop out and apply to another faculty, and the other decide to do without a college degree at all. Those who remain in colleges frequently feel that they are wasting time with unnecessary subjects, but there is no particular choice for them – either drop out or go ahead to graduation.
Universities and colleges shall definitely attract more freshmen and be able to retain them. Providing more bread-winning degrees and filling curricula with popular subjects, institutions can at least assure students that they do not waste their post-secondary years and money.
The new legislation has revived testing for primary school students in England. The government expressed its concerns about low standards of assessment in pre-schools that made students lag behind the required level. In 2016, the first tests for the youngest students were criticized by teachers as inappropriately constructed as only a half of students met the requirements put by the government. From this point, reading, writing, math, and science in kindergarten can be estimated through standardized testing in English schools, but is it a proper standard to strive to?
The objective necessity of testing in primary school is very doubtful. Children age 5 to 10 are only starting their academic path in K-12 school, and their performance can be assessed by more age-appropriate creative assignments. Primary school is the time to make children motivated for many years ahead, and complex confusing tests are not the best way to keep children interested in schooling. Clearly, even in the primary school, every grade has certain academic expectations, but most students are usually able to meet them without testing and perform successfully in the coming year.
As a rule, school tests are designed for secondary and high school when there are sophisticated questions to ask. But with younger students, we have to work on more experimental and playful level and assess their skills through creative projects, writing assignments, and reading tasks. Math and science can be tested but only if test questions are understandable and do not confuse a child. For the rest of subjects, tests are not appropriate by definition.
A few years ago, the idea of a mandatory pre-school came into view. Its proponents argue that kindergarten shall be compulsory for all children to attend, just like primary school. At the age of 5 to 6, children are already expected to have some basic skills to start learning school subjects. Besides, many parents work all the day and have no one to leave their child with. If a primary school is obligatory, then the kindergarten must also be so, they say. Public pre-school could be mandatory in some or all states and be funded by the government. Nevertheless, the opponents to the idea have much to say as well.
Compulsory kindergarten seems to be a weird idea because not all parents choose to enroll kids even to school. Some people chose to homeschool for their children who have benefited from such education. And preschool is a much more sensitive topic. With the traditional approach, children would be demanded to sit still and listen to the lectures at the age when they cannot possibly do it. Still, many parents believe that they can better prepare kids to school in a family or in a private kindergarten with some alternative but productive approach to pre-school education.
Though we really need more public daycare centers for parents to leave their children until they go home, these pre-schools cannot be mandatory to attend. Children of age 3 to 6 are not obliged to attend anything yet before K-12 school. And public primary schools shall accept children who never attended kindergarten too. Compulsory education is not a guarantee of child’s academic success.
Montessori philosophy is not new to the classrooms. With more than a century of progressive learning, the method proposed by Italian educator Maria Montessori proved to be effective in making pre-schoolers learn independently, without lecturing and using fixed curricula. In the alternative to traditional schooling, children are classified according to their performance level and learn through play. They move freely around the room choosing age-appropriate activities they would like to do right away. Montessori classrooms put a stress on teaching children to be independent and make own decisions. Children learn to serve themselves without the assistance of an adult.
The Montessori method is beneficial because it does not imply children learning any extra skills beyond their current abilities. Math and languages are not directly taught in the classrooms for children will certainly master them as soon as they are ready. American psychologists found that Montessori preschoolers did a better progress in math and reading at the age of 6-7. These children were better prepared for sophisticated academic disciplines. While Montessori education is targeted at developing concentration, motivation, and self-discipline, academic success derives from such very basic skills.
What children love about a Montessori classroom is its non-competitive friendly environment. Children aged 3 to 6 are expected to learn together and help each other. Starting a new activity for the first time, a teacher shows kids what they are expected to do. From this point on, children can work alone or cooperate with friends and complete the task without the teacher’s guidance. At the same time, children get accustomed to cleaning their working place and putting all materials back on shelves. It is true that many traditionally-taught preschoolers are not so organized and disciplined later in the primary school when they are already required to behave like adults.
Family environment influences child’s performance more than parents can imagine. In a friendly family, adults give the child their support and a sound motivation. But family can also discourage from learning with a constant dissatisfaction and rising demands. This is the case with perfectionist parents who suppose that the child once will be grateful for years of stress and poisoned childhood. Family involvement is a must in education, but a wrong interpretation does harm to students who stand under the double pressure day to day.
Since their early years, children search for parental approval. However brilliant they performed, children do not feel contentment without the approval of the most important people. Especially in the primary and secondary school, parents shall recognize and cherish positive results of children to encourage them to proceed with learning. Later on, they can become more critical but only if the child performs far below their abilities. As a rule, children get enough critical evaluation from school teachers, and listening to the insults of parents at home can be especially disappointing. Children shall be loved for who they are, but many parents still think it would be better if they try to rise a superchild with incredible skills.
A basic family involvement includes attention, encouragement, recognition, and support. In some cases, parents can hire a tutor or ask for extra classes from their school teacher. Sometimes, parents can help kids to complete tasks themselves without any tutors. Every attentive parent can figure out whether the child needs more of their involvement or it will be redundant. Though family shall always stay interested in child’s performance, it is also important not to trespass and put extra academic pressure.
Dyslexic children challenge teachers in many ways. As long as the teacher is not aware of the student’s disability, they may take such a behavior as laziness or carelessness. But children with dyslexia require a special treatment that may seem weird when applied to their peers. In the first place, parents shall understand it choosing a school for the child. Even a public school can be appropriate if teachers are capable of working with special children. After-class tutoring would be desirable as hard work is a key to overcoming dyslexia.
Dyslexia makes it difficult for a child to read, spell, write, memorize long words, and use grammar. At the same time, the child may have well-developed oral or artistic skills, and good visual comprehension. But anyway, dyslexic children always feel disadvantageous in the peer environment, and creating a friendly and encouraging atmosphere is the first thing for the teacher to take. All assignments shall be written down with an appropriate spacing, the key points highlighted. The teacher’s task is to check whether the student copies the assignment correctly and supply the child with worksheets, books, and handouts.
To learn to spell effectively, dyslexics require lists of structure-based words instead of topic-based ones. Proofreading may be helpful to learn how to find mistakes in one’s own writing. Children experiencing a difficulty reading shall practice more in a calm environment after classes when they can take as much time as they need before reading aloud to the class. Especial attention shall be also given to handwriting. Teachers may use a cursive joined style to make words easier for children to spell.
Constructivist practices proved to be effective in education a long time ago. Learning by doing was yet an ancient principle that made people learn to practice under the guidance of their teachers. Though schools promote rather theoretical learning, constructivism is now revived by digital devices. Teachers who never considered digital learning as a part of their curriculum shall better revise their methods. A video game is the most practical and accessible tool to enhance interactive skills and cognitive activity in primary and secondary school.
In theory, educational video games boost brain functions and reverse cognitive loss during aging. These outcomes have been experimentally proven by researchers who tested individuals of different age playing non-violent video games. On practice, popular among kids “Civilization” and “The Sims” are helpful to evoke interest in history and develop analytical thinking. Today developers concentrated on games that easily run on cell phones and mobile apps. The most recent video games are more effective at teaching complicated subjects like math, physics or engineering.
Despite the advantages, integration of fun into the classroom still remains questionable. Some educators argue that laptop use and multitasking hinders effective classroom learning and shall be better used as a free-time activity. But we cannot dismiss the impact of games on motivation and engagement into the class activities. Apparently, few teachers have succeeded at making students concentrated as those who used some video games during classes.
It a classroom, a teacher always plays the role of manager leading students to achieving goals of the course. Supervision is a key to organize a group and make them determined to study in the class. Classroom management mostly concerns students behavior and engagement into the work that are not easy to achieve. Clearly, no student can learn if the classroom is a mess, and teachers easily reach their burnout point if they keep on shouting at students. We do not need discipline for the sake of discipline only because we have it in the school rules. We require vise classroom management to make learning easy and comfortable for everyone.
Disciplining students is not an easy task, and rather few teachers were taught classroom management strategies. Their skills in this area are primarily determined by years of experience working with kids. If the school does not provide behavior management training to teachers, the newcomers are expected to handle discipline on their own. Coming to a new classroom for the first time, many teachers get nervous. There is a chance that students are nice and eager to cooperate, but it is much more likely that they are little rebels difficult to organize.
Avoiding crucial mistakes, teachers can manage the classroom even without a specific training. First, educators have to set clear rules of behavior and always stick to them. They cannot use extremely harsh or embarrassing punishment. If a student raises any concerns, they shall refer to a school psychologist who has more expertise in the field.
Implementation of effective classroom management definitely makes it easier for students to perform. It is highly important that teacher’ s methods do not make students distressed. We have numerous examples of how draconian measures make a reverse effect on students attendance and performance in the class.