Being a part of two different elementary & middle school structures, I feel that somehow I can compare the two structures with a student and teacher’s perspective. I graduated elementary in a K-8 school and I’m currently teaching at a school where middle school has a separate structure from elementary. When I was elementary I felt that K-8 was a continuous ladder that I had to climb. All the lessons I had in every grade were spiraled , varying in degrees of difficulty . It was easy for me , as a student, to cope with the changes in curriculum because the transition was not that abrupt . I saw 8th grade as the end of my elementary journey and a window to a major transition which is high school. In the school where I teach , students have to go through 3 transitions- first is Early learning Center which consists of Toddler, Pre-K and Kinder , then Elementary grades 1-5, then middle school grades 6-8 and finally, high school 9-12. The reason behind this structure is to be able provide students an environment for peers of a similar age group to create avenues for social development . This structure also calls for more specialized teachers in their subjects. Having a small population of 450 students in total allows our school to have the transition levels be seen as a continuation of the K-5 community- separating the schools by buildings or wings.
Looking at both structures, I can’t say that one is better than the other. Both structures have their strengths as well as weaknesses. If I were to structure a school , I would get the best of both combinations. I would have a spiral curriculum from K-8 but still have a separate wing for middle school to give students a more formal and specialized instruction in preparation for highs school and an environment to socialize with their peers . A separate wing is ideal, in my opinion , because it shows a transition but it doesn’t totally remove the continuity of middle school from elementary.
2. Create a visual (brochure layout, chart, etc) that identifies the key data that you think should be reported to parents and staff in an Annual Report for a preK-12th grade school.
The main motivation for teacher’s to boost their performance is teacher evaluation. In our school, there is very little culture of classroom observation or peer evaluation. In the past years, most of our teacher training involve limited out of school conferences and we are just on the early stages of having in-house professional development and mentoring. The teacher evaluation policy in our school is not very strong yet but it can provide a good foundation for improvement in the future. Right now, all we have is a developmental evaluation which consists of 1 formal classroom observation evaluation and several walk-ins made by the principal . There is no such thing as performance appraisal or career progression in our evaluation policy. At the beginning of the year our principal gives us a clear profile of what we are expected to know and do and the student objective our school aims to achieve – this profile will then be the key criteria she will be evaluating us on during the year. Though our principal executes this part of the evaluation very well, we teachers still feel that we need more than just 1 feedback report . In my opinion, teachers should be given more support to understand evaluation procedures and directly benefit from evaluation results.