Saturday, December 16, 2017


I was thinking while writing about consortium schools twice this past week about what makes a successful high school. Having worked in a traditional high school for 28 years and now three in a consortium school, I believe I kind of know what works.

What do all high schools need? Figuring out the answer isn't rocket science. I can break it down to three main concepts that would make the difference:

1- A collaborative, respectful teaching and learning environment.

Administration, teachers, other staff and students must value each other as working together for a common goal.

Mutual respect works so much better than fear as a motivator.

Eductator experience has to be seen as an asset instead of a liability.

2-Lower class sizes and reasonable guidance caseloads.

25 maximum in a class (like the law says should be the average) so we actually have ample time to get to know the students as people, give them real individual attention and meticulously read rough drafts and revisions of those lengthy term papers we want done that will prepare kids for college.

Guidance caseloads of no more than 200 per counselor so counselors can do actual counseling and not mostly paperwork and emergencies.

3- An enforceable discipline code.

Students do need to know there are real consequences for their actions.

These very reasonable goals could actually be achieved. Instead of rewarding principals for results that are invariably made up in too many schools under current rules, give administration incentives for establishing a work environment where the above conditions are present. You then might witness more of those top scores being achieved for real.


Anonymous said...

HAHA, not happening.

Anonymous said...

Aim high.

James Eterno said...

If we had a real union, these conditions could happen. Some are already in state law.

Anonymous said...

Right now teachers and other staff wear so many hats nothing really gets done properly! The admin that oversee do not even know proper procedures or rules so many things that students need to succeed are left out!

A great example is in Special Education services. Many new teachers being asked to write IEPs with no training and no experience.

Services not being provided, pressure to change IEPs, proper procedures not being adhered to, parents not being informed, and students who really need accommodations left out consistently for years now!

There have been no real consequences but the tide is changing!

Anonymous said...

My school says you cant give anything lower than 45 on a test, HW, classwork and it must be averaged in that way. So can I cap grades at 80 if they are gonna put a floor under them? What a scam. The kid who gets a 50, gets a 50, the kids who gets a 0, get a 45.

Harris L. said...

Very thoughtful.

We (necessarily) need to focus on what's wrong or needs to be changed without having the time or opportunity to think about what should be done and can be done.

Anonymous said...

The School Leadership Team State law empowers teachers and parents and students in high schools. Enforce it UFT.

Anonymous said...

HS formula, get better, middle class, respectal, subordinate students.

Anonymous said...

Throw the trash out

Anonymous said...

Don't let the trash rule.

Highly Effective King Clovis said...

I've had the opportunity to work in consortium schools as an ATR and I have had mixed feelings on it. On the one hand, the pressure of the Regents is gone. On the other in some cases people are teaching the same way they do elsewhere. Though I have seen some schools do some amazing things. I have to mostly agree though, that respect between teachers and admin is a must. It seems so obvious and yet, is a rarity.