1. Support for teachers/students has dramatically decreased over the past five years. When I started teaching in 2008, in our building was a full time literacy interventionist, full time math interventionist, a math coach and each new teacher had a district mentor that met with them at least once per month to observe lessons and provide feedback. We now have a .75 time literacy interventionist, a .6 time math interventionist, no coaches, and essentially no mentors for new teachers. At that time we also had a sheltered ELL room and therefore general education teachers did not work with the enormous range of language development. We now have level 1 – 3 students in our classes and a .4 ELL facilitator. We need a full time interventionist for both math and reading, coaches in each area, and a full time ELL facilitator.
2. Beverly Park Elementary has been subject to fluctuating/decreasing enrollment for the past five years, and possibly longer. Yet schools within a few miles of us are overcrowded and do not have enough space. The current solution is to “balance” students from year to year between these schools. This is not healthy for students and their families as they are unable to create the bonds needed to succeed. It also creates fluctuations for the staffing of the school. My grade level team has changed every year for the past five years. This does not allow teachers to create consistency and it also means that new teachers are continually passing through without an ability to fully develop their teaching skills and collaborate with the same team over time. The solution is to change the boundaries slightly to create stability for families and teaching staff.
3. A real “game changer” would be to put two teachers in a room of 27 – 30 students, at the intermediate level; possibly lower numbers of students at the primary level. Each teacher could focus on one or two subject areas, yet be available to work with small groups in any academic area when not leading his/her given subjects. There are many benefits to this idea. Teachers could focus on, and become experts in, one or two academic areas. A built-in interventionist is in the room to work with small groups of students all day. Teachers could receive PD during the day without the expense of subs and the fear of a “lost teaching day”.
4. Given the increased time demands on principals with the new review system, each building MUST have an assistant/co-principal. Having been part of the pilot program, I can say with firsthand knowledge that principals are going to be pushed beyond their limits to carry out the increased observation duties required by this system and will be hard pressed to carry out all of their other important duties such as support for discipline issues, budget management, SIP plans, PD planning, etc.