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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

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

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

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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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Chuck Bell's picture
Chuck Bell
Principal/Commerce City Schools

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

brian cleary's picture
brian cleary
Library/media specialist in Camas Washington

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.

Cynthia Wright's picture
Cynthia Wright
Principal CP Elementary

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.

Harriet Egertson's picture
Harriet Egertson
Early Childhood Specialist

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)

Chuck Bell's picture
Chuck Bell
Principal/Commerce City Schools

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

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