middle school improvements
- Whew. That's quite a list.
I looked it over and the only ones I could hope to have an impact on
are #2 parent participation, #3 parental fears, and possibly #4 better
communication--although I'm not sure how. Put out a newsletter?
Volunteer to be the e-Tree coordinator?
I'm still confused about the double block scheduling but for all I
know it may have changed in 2 years.
Not sure how helpful a report would be that was written 10 years ago
but it would be interesting to see what observations/conclusions were
reached and if any of them were implemented.
I'm willing to get involved in any school my child attends and work to
make it better but only if I feel that there will be help from the
teachers, the principal, and downtown administrators.
So far, at Harding the teachers have been VERY open to everything the
PTA has wanted to do (raise money, support the science program, pay
for an art teacher, conduct kindergarten tours, launch a website,
etc.). Our principal was very supportive also. She didn't micro-manage
but did identify resources and support and encourage us. As for
downtown....well, let's just say they usually issue edicts, screw up
everything the first time, and then scramble around trying to make it
The big exceptions is special ed. We get so many calls from parents
who are desperately unhappy with the kind of services being offered at
parochial schools, private schools, and Albany Unified. I think if you
have a kid who is diagnosed with autism at three years old--you want
to be in this district.
At least that's my perception as a parent having been in the district
for 5 years.
Middle School Observations
> 1. Better academics in elementary - Our middle school teachers are
> being handed students who are not ready academically. We require our
> middle school teachers to bring students up to grade level in two
> years. Better they stay at the elementary school level until they are
> ready. For example, one place we are really lacking is the sciences.
> We don't teach science in the elementary grades and we expect our
> middle school teachers to produce a miracle so our 8th graders can
> take a state wide test and pass and we blame our middle school
> teachers for the failure. I shake my head.
> 2. Parent participation - seems to disappear during the middle school
> years. A school is only be as good as what you put into it. I can tell
> you that when you have parent participation and investment in a school
> it can only go up. Parents need to step up and be held accountable for
> their lack of participation in their kids lives. And I am tired of
> hearing people say they don't have time. Why did you have kids if you
> weren't going to spend time with them during the most vulnerable times
> of their lives.
> 3. Resolve Parent Fear - Parents for some reason fear this age. They
> dread the middle school years. Parents need to be educated earlier
> about pre-teen and teenage years and embrace the changes. They fear
> the change in family dynamics. I will state that I was worried when my
> oldest was to enter middle school, but instead of sitting at home
> fearing the worst, I stepped up and did something about it. I got
> involved and spent time with these kids. Maybe if people really took
> the time to embrace these kids we wouldn't have the problems we do.
> 4. Better communication - Better communication between teachers and
> students, teachers and parents, teachers and administrators, parents
> and administrators, parents and students, parents and parents, etc.
> Time we start talking, figure out the problems, finding solutions, and
> implementing them.
> 5. Better teacher classroom management and pay - Provide teachers with
> the tools to control classes. We all know teachers who have control
> and those who do not. Kids are learning from those teachers who have
> classroom management skills. And to provide better pay is a given.
> 6. Better principal training, leadership, and pay - Provide our
> administrators with the tools they need to succeed. You can have a
> school full of great teachers, but if you have an administrator who
> cannot do their job, then you don't have a good school.
> 7. Better teamwork - time to drop some restrictive rules and begin to
> work with one another. This includes your city officials, your school
> community, your unions and the public!
> Cathy, as much as I would like to see the double block eliminated,
> some students need the extra help. If you structure the double block
> classes correctly you can really get somewhere. Not all students need
> a double block and can take electives. We had a full program at Pinole
> Middle last year provided three different tiers for the variety of
> students we had. The key reason why we had this program was because
> our administrator and teachers made it happen.