We have to interact with various professionals on a regular basis, and the way we go about choosing them is revealing. When we need a plumber, we might choose the one with the best reviews. When we need a hair stylist, maybe we ask our friends who they go to. Sometimes things go well, but sometimes we have that frustrating experience where the job gets done poorly and we realize we could have done it better ourselves.
So what about choosing teachers for our children?
Arguably, the professionals we select as teachers for our children are the most important professionals we will ever work with. (And yes, you DO have a say in your child’s education, even though inertia can make it easy to just stay in the flow of whatever school district you happen to live in). And sadly, many parents find themselves with that same frustration at the “professionals” and feel that they themselves have to be able to compensate. So what creates this dynamic? What is it that makes parents lose their trust in the education professionals?
Large class sizes, standardized testing, and an overgeneralized core curriculum can all play a part in creating this frustration and lack of trust. Parents know their child as an individual--they know all the personality, interests, quirks, behavioral nuances, academic abilities, weaknesses, etc. A good teacher can also get to know a student at this type of individual level, but not when they have thirty or forty kids in a classroom. Even the best teachers, who are aware of how each child learns and what each individual child’s strengths, weaknesses, and interests might be, are bound to a one-size-fits-all testing system and core curriculum. This leaves students bored or confused, and families and even teachers feeling helpless and frustrated.
The sheer numbers and overarching regulations can also lead to a bureaucratic type of system that is frustrating for parents to try and deal with. With, for example, only broad and formulaic communication from teachers and administration, large amounts of paperwork and red tape, and Parent Teacher Conferences that seem more like a timestamp than an actual conference, parent’s might feel that their child is being unnoticed and slipping through any number of cracks.
It’s no wonder, sadly, that many parents do not trust the education system to know and do what is best for their individual child.
So what is the solution? What can parents do in this situation?
At Arches Academy, we have a strict cap size for our classes to ensure that each child receives individual attention, and so the teachers can do what they do best. Small class sizes means that the teachers can allow their expertise to thrive, without having to spend an overwhelming amount of time on simple classroom management. With small class sizes, this individualized attention means students can thrive not only academically, but socially and emotionally as well, because teachers are aware of each student and the overall classroom dynamics.
At Arches Academy, we use interactive and leveled learning to make sure each student is placed where they will be most appropriately challenged and kept engaged. If a child is ahead in a subject or two, many schools believe that the only way to try to engage that child is to move them up a grade even if they aren't ahead in all their subjects, creating other problems. But at Arches Academy, students are assessed to see where they will thrive in each class, rather than simply grade level. They are able to move ahead as quickly as their natural tendencies dictate, and also receive individualized help to fill in any knowledge gaps. Instead of common core boredom or confusion, students with leveled curriculum feel they can succeed, and have the tools necessary to do so. And because we are not beholden to government regulated standardized testing, students have the power to move ahead of their common core peers.
At Arches Academy, we facilitate a culture of unity rather than bureaucracy. Teachers are in regular contact with families, through texts, calls, and face-to-face. This means that Parent Teacher Conferences are just one of many conversations you might have had with your child’s teacher about their progress and wellbeing. Administrators know the parents names, and faculty know students names across grades due to the leveled learning and mini-courses. The teachers collaborate together to help students. Parents can be involved in everything from daily lunch duty to board meetings to chaperoning the middle school year-end trip to Alabama or Hawaii. Administration and teachers are always open to discussing any questions or concerns that parents may have, and it is because of the Arches community as a whole that we are able to provide the variety of field trips, classes, concerts, plays, science fair and foreign language events, etc., that we provide for our students.
Given these factors, a community of trust can be allowed to thrive. In this scenario parents are able to relax and trust their children in the hands of the professionals. In her acceptance speech for the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education, Christine Cunningham said:
“Classroom teachers are experts. Unfortunately, today their expertise is often largely unacknowledged and unsolicited, while external mandates laid out by actors far removed from the ground truths and from children shape decisions about policies and instruction. Classroom teachers understand children. They know how to make concepts developmentally accessible at their grade levels and what approaches will lead to success. They know what works for the highly diverse pupils in their classrooms. They know what is realistic in their settings—what materials they can scrounge up and what time they might be able to carve out for new endeavors. Most importantly, teachers care very, very deeply about their students.”
If you have any questions please feel free to schedule a tour today! Call 801-374-5480 and see what Arches is all about!