Seven Observations from the Division Head e-List
Vol. 13 No. 7
Our email-based, position-specific e-Lists generate lively conversation year-round, but the Division Head e-List has been especially insightful lately. In addition to recommendations on specific curriculum, technology, and policy-related questions, there are many words of wisdom to be shared from listening in to the conversations of your fellow Division Heads.
- The student-to-teacher ratios in lower school classrooms reported on the e-List range from 10:1 to 18:1, with some Division Heads saying they hire learning assistants in addition to the primary instructors.
- To boost students’ writing abilities, several Division Heads report increased enthusiasm and ability when incorporating in-class “writing hour” times, coupled with an appropriate writing program. (One Division Head says that several students “would rather write than go out for recess”!)
- Several schools permit students to be pulled from class during the regular school day for additional support from learning specialists—but only if the student has an educational evaluation on file to document the need for specialist support.
- Addressing tardiness and chronic absenteeism is difficult for teachers—and Division Heads—as it’s not necessarily the student’s fault that he/she is late. Setting parents as the primary role models of timeliness is their first line of defense, with one school requiring parents to pay for subject tutoring outside of school if the student racks up excessive absences or tardies.
- To create room for specialist educational programs, some schools are experimenting with six and eight-day schedule rotations, reporting mixed results. (If you’d like ISM-theory based insight into your schedule building practices, consider attending either Student-Centered Scheduling or Scheduling the Elementary School Program July 2016 in Wilmington, Delaware.)
- Schools creating “makerspaces” and modern learning environments out of their classrooms are investing in modular furniture, like that offered by Virco or Steelcase.
- Several communities are beginning to develop mission-specific “gender identity policies,” regardless of whether a transgender-identifying student has enrolled.