Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer is here-finally

June 21st has come and gone- the longest day of the year. To celebrate I took a walk AFTER dinner and it was still light at 9 pm! This is the best time of the year for me and I realize how much my body demands the energizing  light and warmth of summer. It may not be all that warm but the light is here so we have made a start. With the long days come hours of time in the garden bringing those random thoughts cruising in and out through the holes of my brain. Here is one that I have meant to put out into the universe for some time.

With the summer comes the end of the school year. In the present economy, school employees everywhere have been buzzing about jobs that have ended and contracts not renewed. In many cases teachers retire and their posts are not filled from outside but staffed within. This might sound like a good business plan but a junior high school general math teacher does not an AP calculus teacher make. The young, energetic journalism teacher, teaching part time journalism and part time English on a long term subbing contract is not best replaced by a Buisness English teacher with 26th years of seniority. 

These are real examples of real decisions made to help budgets but to destroy curriculums. There are hundreds of young educators looking for contracts and even when they find that first job, work 14 hour days in preparation and make a very successful presence in the classroom, they become the first casualties of the "budget crunch". This is an old story and 60 year old teachers are NOT ready to join an old folks home. Neither are they able to live for 25 years on their reitrement pension. The experience these educators have gathered need not be sent to a scrap heap as out moded  but big problems are best solved by well designed structural changes, so a structure needs to be errected allowing the passing on of information and the infusion of youthful energy.

Of course I have an answer! School districts needs to develope a force of senior teachers, each with no fewer than 20 years of experience in their assigned grade level or curriculum. Each grade level/curriculum would have one "mentor teacher" for every 2-3 schools and no fewer that 2 mentors per grade level. These mentors would weave their way through every school and classroom so that each classroom teacher would see a mentor once a week, seeing all of the mentors in the district in rotation.

Mentors would be in the classroom, acting as observes and helpers. They would also spend time talking with teachers individually about teaching, discipline, curriculum, materials and other subjects that make up the life of a classroom. With a mentor force in each grade level, teachers would be able to connect with some ideas from the variety of mentors in their field. Information would be passed not only from mentor to classroom teacher, but from classroom to classroom throughout the district with the mentors act as conduit for ideas and problem solving. The qualitity of classroom education would not only improve but be energized and inspired with this constant communication and support network. The mentorship would be a term-limit program with a maximum of 4 years ending in retirement and with a contract  renewed annually without tenure.

So, school districts of the world open your eyes and budget for success in the long term or get someof those education federal/ Gates grant dollars for new changes and improvements. Here is an plan for success with no wasted technology that will be old before it is understood and no new, untested curriculum with unreachable  promises. This is a way of using people we have to improve the program them have spent a life time learning. A new idea offered into the little idea run!

Love and more ideas to come from the garden,
Mama Llama

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