Make Believe Schools

As I teach another year it is becoming more apparent that school scheduling is a nightmare and at best just getting kids through state mandates. PE classes are becoming dumping grounds for large numbers and electives are going by the way side as the pressure to pass state assessments is becoming top priority to graduate.  Thus the system as a whole is flawed, we socially promote students despite the skills, have little to no places for remediation available, and rarely expose students to industrial skills or trades.

So in my spare time I imagine how I can reach all of these students who struggle in math. We have a support class, but not enough for the demand, I offer before and after school, and proficiency re-takes, but still it isn't enough. Due to the lacking ability to meet all students needs I have designed a bare bones structure of a middle school schedule that would be verging on "charter" school due to state licensing requirements.  It would also require buy in from teachers; so here it is:

All Middle School Students would have core classes and two rotating electives.  The electives would be one week long. Students would then electronically sign up on Friday or Monday. Teachers would also sign students up.  So a 7th grade math teacher would be teaching remediation 5th period to the first half of the alphabet as chosen by the teacher and the second half of the alphabet 6th period. This would free the language arts teacher up to have the second half 5th period and the first half 6th period since many of these students overlap.  Science remediation could happen 5th, and social studies remediation could happen 6th. There typically is less remediation in these courses and it would free up additional teachers for electives.  The electives would be on one week wheels and could encompass Home Ec, PE - Indoors, PE-Outdoors, Wood Shop, Computers, Engineering and Design, Art, Theater, Choir, Band, and Drama among many others.

7th Grade                                     8th Grade
1st - Math                                    1st - Elective
2nd - Language Arts                     2nd - Elective
3rd - Social Studies                      3rd - Math
4th - Science                                4th - Language Arts
5th - Elective                                5th - Social Studies
6th - Elective                                6th - Science    

The Drawbacks:

Certification - In most states you must be certified to teach certain subjects. This type of schedule would leave PE and Music teachers with perhaps as few as 4 class periods out of 6. This would not justify full time, and would require most of the staff to be dual certified.

Flexibility - Teachers would need to be willing to teach an elective if they did not teach math or language arts. It would also make teaching electives more difficult as they would need a different curriculum for nearly half the school year to allow students to sign up by the week.  Electives could be taught twice forcing students to sign up for others, but you would still need a long range of options.

Signing Up - Time consuming for teachers and students. I believe this is less of a drawback than what many people would perceive. I feel BYOD and computer access is great enough that a program could be written to drop students names into a list and send them an email, then if the student wasn't on a list to allow a time for them to sign up then the program could self sort students who didn't make it on to a list.

What it Offers - Remediation and Electives back!



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