Community Schools Lead to Better Quality Teaching in the Classroom


Recently, DC VOICE had a long conversation with a DCPS elementary school teacher, who by all indicators is a high quality teacher. It was a very interesting conversation, and it got us thinking. We started by asking our usual questions concerning how reform has affected schools’ operations and quality of instruction. This time here’s how the answers came back:

Did you get your books and supplies on time? Check.

Class size manageable? Check.

Building repaired? Check.

Administrative and instructional support? Yes.

Sooo…what do you need to improve the quality of your instruction?

Answer: Teachers need a range of supports for the non-academic needs of children: health care, mental health counseling, family supports. High teacher quality will not result in highly effective learning in the classroom, if these other needs are not met.

The solution to the problems that can’t be fixed with more books, spackle, and infinite professional development: community schools. How do community schools improve the quality of teaching? These are schools that have extended their hours and offer multiple services, not just to their students but to families as well. A well implemented community school model directly supports the learning process and helps make classrooms a high quality environment for both students and teachers. By partnering with one or more organizations and agencies that provide medical or social services, the community school can nurture a student’s development holistically. That can mean scheduling an eye exam for a student having trouble seeing the blackboard or a dental appointment for the student whose toothache keeps him or her from concentrating; and, providing counseling for the student who has been traumatized by neighborhood violence and is distracted in the classroom. While tutoring services are provided to help students who are behind in their academic achievement, community schools offer this, in addition to, various kinds of family support services that help families and community members participate more fully in the education of their children. Serving as a neighborhood hub, community schools can offer access to recreational facilities such as basketball courts and pools for neighborhood residents. Also, it is a free meeting space for residents to discuss community issues and for local organizations. Beyond the obvious benefits for children, the result of utilizing community partners to assist students with academic and personal challenges is the freedom for teachers to focus solely on instruction.

DC VOICE has drafted community schools legislation, which we expect to be introduced by the City Council in the next few weeks. It proposes setting up an Investment Fund to award multi-year grants to local schools on a competitive basis. By consolidating public resources in schools, the city can save money, preserve jobs, and make social services more accessible. This work needs to begin now. Contact your ward representative and encourage them to introduce this legislation at their next meeting. Our teachers and students deserve more. And, our community depends on it.

Demand Reform. Demand Equity.


1 Comentário:

Centennial College said...

Great article !

Such a useful article which tell us how can we improve our quality of instruction.

Thanks for this useful post !

school of social work

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