I would love to see schools going to a program where kids keep the same teacher for a minimum of 3 years, regardless of grade. I taught Special Education for 10 years, and I can tell you that this was one of the most important contributions to having a smooth year and helping kids achieve to their ability. It was SO nice to start the year out already knowing most of the kids, what to expect from them academically, socially, and behaviorally.
And for the kids, the payoffs were great…no need to test the new teacher, no call to prove yourself, and a real sense of ease right from the start. All we needed was a brief reminder about rules and expectations, and we were off.
My oldest son had a terrible year in Kindergarten. He left school that year having decided that he hated school and he was NEVER gonna read books, EVER.
Poor guy. He was so sad, and I was heartbroken to see my bright, optimistic little boy with such a negative experience. When I enrolled him (in a different school district) in 1st grade, I had several options to choose from. I picked the one that would keep the same teacher for at least 2 years, and what a great experience that was for my son! It was the best thing that ever happened to him in school. He had a wonderful teacher for 3 years…one who understood his kind of quirky learning style and could find ways to encourage and help him with his learning.
Anyway, that is ONE of the things I would like to see. Of course, this type of program would require 100% of all teaching staffs to be GOOD, above-and-beyond, dedicated teachers, and that is sadly not often to be found in any school.
When I have worked with really troubled kids, I have found that the most effective tool is consistency. If I had had things *my* way while I was teaching, I would have taken the 12 most troubled kids in the program, put them in MY room for a minimum of 4 hours a day, and taught them all the core subjects there. It would definitely have been different from a run-of-the-mill class…I wanted to teach in a therapeutic classroom, one where we worked on more than just the basic academics.
I also think that an awful lot of kids (not all, but quite a few), would do very well with a year round schedule. Not more than the 180 days that is typical, but perhaps 9 weeks in, 3 weeks out, or something similar. I ran into soooo many kids who would do great for the first 9 or 18 weeks, then just NOT be able to maintain behaviorally or academically. They burned out, and ended up losing the last 1/2 of the school year.
*sigh* If ONLY we had the resources to teach every child in a program that would best fit his/her needs in the truest sense. 🙂
Okay, off the soapbox and off to bed now.