The first days of summer school prove just how important strong school administrators are. Over the course of the week, I’ve already heard my fair share of administrative catastrophes. If our goal for the summer is to take failing students and help them pass–i.e. to “close the achievement gap”–I don’t think some of the administrative weaknesses that the schools in which TFA CMs are being placed are helping at all.
At one school here in Philly, teaching collaboratives were met on the first day with up to 59 students in a single classroom equipped with not more than 30 desks. Notwithstanding the fact that this is a blatant violation of the fire code, one must recognize that creating an effective learning environment is extremely difficult. I’m lucky to have been placed in a classroom with a baker’s dozen students. Yet, already, I’m realizing how difficult it is to manage students, to keep all of them on task simultaneously, to organize their paperwork and to grade their assignments without falling asleep.
As one example, my roommate was greeted by a class of 39 on his first day. He ended up spending a good portion of his precious time simply grading the pre-test assessment and the in-class worksheets.
Sometimes, the selfishness of a few individuals can stifle the learning process, too. Apparently, on Wednesday, the building engineers were on strike. This prevented teachers and students alike from getting through the iron gates on time and also made setting up the school for the day difficult.
I recognize that teachers, administrators and staff have their own needs, but when thinking about how to act, each should remember why they have a job in the first place–to teach students.