Just one aspect of the perfect school...
The perfect school has like-minded teachers. These leaders are committed to seeing every child reach his or her fullest potential. Classes are small so that teachers can address individual needs. More than one teacher interacts with each student so that assessment can be made and instructional plans changed to fit the need. It is an emotionally safe environment created to nurture minds, not crank our test scores.
My idea of a perfect school is similar to Judy and is one where teachers, students and management work together to reach a common goal that centres around student learning and achieving one's individual best and not necessarily the best test scores. The philosophy needs to be authentic and really focused on developing a learning community. This will work in an environment that is not dominated by keeping up appearances or bending to market forces (i.e. achieving top results because it makes a school more appealing for prospective students/parents).
For this approach to truly work the philosphy must be believed and adopted by all community members - the executive, staff, teachers, students and parents.
In NSW (Australia) there has been an Institute of Teachers set up to answer that set question. To ‘prove’ that we are doing our job, in NSW we have to complete an extensive submission to the institute demonstrating 'competence' in over 40 teaching standards. These are demonstrated in writing which is signed off by the school. (Naturally I am missing a little more of the detail but this will suffice to make my point).
I recently made my submission which was successful and saw me classified as an 'Excellent Teacher' (this means that I can receive a nominal pay increase). The process was exhausting and my submission took me over 100 indicative hours to compile (in my own time). There was no test to the authenticity of my submission and there was only one instance where I was observed by a superior (to which I had ample notice of their attendance).
Another colleague of mine went through the same process to get the same classification. With a few marked differences:
1. I know on good authority from her supervisor that parents had been making complaints about the teacher in large volumes. Last week alone she had recorded 9 complaints and is now under 'professional counselling'
2. She consistently fails (and sometimes refuses) to meet deadlines e.g. reporting consistently which is seen on the report database which all teachers have access to.
3. She has a one size fits all approach to all her lessons - she writes definitions and worked solutions (maths) on the board and gets the kids to copy then answer questions from the text in silence (I teach next door to her often so I have firsthand account of said teaching practices).
4. She has a high dropout rate from her classes at a senior level for example, last year she started with a class of 18, by the end of the year she had 4 not to mention results that are year after year highlighted as the lowest in the school.
I could honestly go on - but suffice it to say, on paper she was able to demonstrate (fabricate) competence.
I do not trust this system and I believe that the school should have more power to hire/fire people. Perhaps putting teachers on contracts rather than giving them permanent tenure would inspire a few more to do their jobs better? However, we as teachers are going to be measured on the success of our jobs I have a few suggestions on how this can be done to really test if we doing our jobs right:
Off course this would need more human hours and ends up being a much more costly exercise than having teachers create their own submissions.
Sorry this was a little long but the lack of equity in this process really fires me up!
My perfect school would be amazing. It would have unlimited resources and any student would be able to attend. Their social class, race or gender would not be an issue. I would have a staff made up of incredible teachers, who really love what they do. Teachers would engage students in learning. There would be many hands on activity and things to keep students motivated to learn! Every student would have an equal opportunity to become great. If only I could make this a reality.
This is a very loaded question......
you could foster an interesting thread of discussion, if you break it down a little bit
- schools of thought of teaching
- learning/teaching environment
- target group (kids, mature, adolescence)