NEW GROUP! Includes discussions from the Administrators and Professional Development groups. What will it take to move our schools into the 21st century? Please share your thoughts and leadership strategies here.

Configuration of 3rd grade..should it be departmentalized?

Cynthia Wright Principal CP Elementary

I'm an Elem. Principal of a rural school in AR. At this time we are departmentalized in grades 3 and 4 ..teacher team teach..one has Math and Science and the other has Literacy and Social Studies. Our State Math scores have improved but our Literacy scores are seeing very little growth. Much discussion has taken place that perhaps departmentalized is not the correct thing to do.

I have a secondary background...so I'm very undecided..need advice.

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Principal/Commerce City Schools

Departmentalization?

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Stay the course with departmentalization...Assign teachers according to their content-area expertise.

Library/media specialist in Camas Washington

Teachers do best teaching their passion

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I have worked as a teacher in both situations.
Teachers that have a passion for their subject area are better then those force to teach what they may or may not care about.
It the perfect world you will find teachers passonate about learning and eager to teach children more than they are excited to teach a subject but that has not always been my experience.

Principal CP Elementary

DRA in 3rd and 4th grade Literacy ..How often?

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We have a number of assessment to determine the reading level of our students. Could anyone comment on giving the DRA vs Dibbles? Seems we are assessing and leaving little time to allow data to drive our instruction.

Early Childhood Specialist

Not in the Best Interest of Elementary Students

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Schools should be configured around the needs of children, not the passions of teachers. If teachers want to be specialists in a particular area, they should consider teaching older students. The larger question I would raise is about whether departmentalization is useful for any child in elementary school. The recent rediscovery of K-8 schools would be an example of re-learning that students up through early adolescence benefit from learning settings where they can have a close, stable, and (in the best case) a multi-year relationship with a generalist teacher. After 40 years of watching departmentalization come and go and come again, I marvel at our inability to maintain institutional memory. Just last week in response a different example of "Here it comes again" it occurred to me that I can be gracious about the rediscovery of the worthwhile practices, but not about the ones that we tend to drift to in answer administrative convenience rather than what research tells us is more beneficial for children's overall development. Departmentalization in the elementary school falls into the latter category. (Former teacher, principal, state official)

Principal/Commerce City Schools

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Your points are well-taken and would almost prompt me to reconsider my position on this topic. But this is not a matter of configuration or "administrative convenience." It is a matter of maximizing available resources to ensure teacher effectiveness.

Learn more at: http://www.hepg.org/hel/article/426#home

Senior Advisor for Learning Initiatives

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I was brought up through the education system in Hong Kong where, from Kindergarten on, we were taught by subject-specific teachers. While each classroom has a "homeroom" teacher and that teacher might teach one or more subjects, every subject is taught by a teacher with a specialization in that subject area. This provides the depth of knowledge for each subject that we, in the U.S., rather unfairly expect from every homeroom to provide for ALL subjects.

Principal CP Elementary

Quote:Schools should be

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Quote:

Schools should be configured around the needs of children, not the passions of teachers. If teachers want to be specialists in a particular area, they should consider teaching older students. The larger question I would raise is about whether departmentalization is useful for any child in elementary school. The recent rediscovery of K-8 schools would be an example of re-learning that students up through early adolescence benefit from learning settings where they can have a close, stable, and (in the best case) a multi-year relationship with a generalist teacher. After 40 years of watching departmentalization come and go and come again, I marvel at our inability to maintain institutional memory. Just last week in response a different example of "Here it comes again" it occurred to me that I can be gracious about the rediscovery of the worthwhile practices, but not about the ones that we tend to drift to in answer administrative convenience rather than what research tells us is more beneficial for children's overall development. Departmentalization in the elementary school falls into the latter category. (Former teacher, principal, state official)

How do you make the move from departmentalization when teachers do not agree? Teacher buyin is so very important.

More and more elementary

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More and more elementary schools are becoming "departmentalized". This term can be used to mean a group of 2 teachers ("team teaching"), to students switching for every class. In the elementary grades it's more than likely switching between two teachers. I think lots of schools have had success with this format, especially with the push for higher test scores. When teachers are able to specialize in fewer subject areas, they are able to focus on lessons, therefore, you get higher test scores. I disagree with the comment that was made that if elementary teachers want to specialize, then they should have taught higher grades. Education is always changing and teachers/school districts have to adapt to the changes that are necessary to improve the education of their students. To the administrator who started this thread....listen to your experienced teachers!! They know what works and what does not.

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What does the research say? Is there research to back up either side of this debate? Why is it that education changes on whims, based on what we "think" is best for children, or our own personal anecdotes, rather than on years of solid research? The answer should always be,
"What does the research say is best for children?"

Principal/Commerce City Schools

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The "research" is not always definitive in its answers to questions like these. If it was, we probably wouldn't be asking questions and seeking input here. We would be simply doing "what the research says is best for children."

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