Teaming Concept: a Remedy against the Factory Model in the School System

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   The teaming concept, when applied to the schools’ structural design could be seen as a “remedy” against the factory model or the traditional departmentalized school structure. In order to effectively answer to the unique needs of young adolescents, many middle schools have been shifting their organizational structure from departmentalized and deterministic into a more holistic and contingent structure (Brown and Knowles, 2007, 226).  Having a Business Management academic background makes me realize that while the corporate world has been successfully changing their organizational structures from the factory model into a holistic-team oriented approach, implementing successful teaming in schools might take great time and efforts. If the schools’ objective is to prepare citizens with a well-rounded education, there must be a shift from the industrial era paradigm into the knowledge era paradigm. In other words, teaming is not only necessary in order to answer to young adolescents’ needs, but also to prepare them to join a job market that is each day more focused on selling knowledge and innovation rather than manufactured products.

          Common planning time is much needed so that the teachers team can become more cohesive and synchronized. According to Manning and Bucher (2012), one of the benchmarks for effective teams tells that, “Teachers should have compatible personalities and good interpersonal skills” (134). I strongly believe that teachers will work better in groups and get to know each other’s thoughts if they have the time to work and plan together. In that way, they’ll be more competent when managing disagreements such as different point of views. They’ll also be more aware of their individual educational philosophies and better able to compromise in order to achieve long term goals. Teams would work together by sharing their thoughts, brainstorming ways to approach the chosen theme, defining ways to assess their students, and last but not least, including the students in the process of integrating the curriculum. In addition, teachers would work in looping in which a core group of teachers and students remain together for several years. Looping is an effective way to promote personalized instruction, facilitate the students’ transition from elementary to middle school and reduce anxiety since students will already know their teachers’ expectations when a new school year begins (Manning and Bucher, 2012, 135). Since there is interaction among individuals with different perspectives, common time planning instruction will certainly present challenges. I believe that one of the main challenges would be teachers who are not willing to give up all the autonomy they have when they are isolated in their classrooms and can freely plan their instruction (Manning and Bucher, 2012, 136). In order to overcome that challenge, teachers should be willing to compromise some of their views so that the entire group can benefit. If we want to teach cooperation to our students, we should be the first ones to model cooperation by willing to make common time planning succeed.

References:

Brown, Dave F, and Trudy Knowles. What Every Middle School Teacher Should Know. 2nd ed. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2007. 290. Print.

Manning, M. Lee., and Katherine T. Bucher. Teaching in the Middle School. 4th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2012. Print.

Educational “ Re-engineering”: Implementing The Middle School Concept- EDU 680

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Besides being seen as new implementations to improve middle schoolers achievement, “The middle school concept” should be seen as a deep change in personal paradigms that will result in changes in the schools’ culture. In other words, the actual “change” starts within the school staff and then spreads into the school as an organization. That can be a daunting task since it “forces” professionals to leave their comfort zone, tapping into unknown areas. That’s how I perceive some of the staff at Oakwood School, they feel they are getting into an unknown territory and they are not sure it is going to be feasible. For instance the sixth grade teacher sees the Turning Points, Great Transitions and This We Believe recommendations as “too much”, while the guidance counselor believes that they can be a good middle school without putting into practice “all” the recommendations (21).  In order to really be a middle school, Oakwood should develop family-community partnerships, interdisciplinary teams, challenging and student-centered curriculum and assessments that promote active learning. The school should also be developmentally responsive with regards to scheduling; promoting young adolescents’ wellness and nurturing relationships between teachers and students (Manning and Bucher, 2012, 7-15).

 I believe that the Oakwood School leaders should start this educational “re-engineering” by implementing changes in the organizational culture, that is, the staff should be on the same page and they aren’t. A good way to start changing their organizational culture would be through meetings with all the school staff, so that the team can determine where “they are” in terms of educational excellence and “where they want to be” and then start brainstorming solutions. Oakwood School seems to be focused on long-term goals (three year plan), they should also have short-term goals (6 months plan) so that they can efficiently speed up the process. “The idea would be to avoid change just for the sake of change and to avoid making too many changes at one time” (21), I agree with Oakwood School that the school staff needs time to internalize all those changes but, there are many resources that can help teachers and school administration to truly get on board. For instance,  brainstorming sessions structured by the Ishikawa Diagram would help them identify possible causes for the problems the school is facing.

 Manning and Bucher (2012) affirm that “The student centered emphasis of the middle school lends itself to the promotion of inclusion” (18).  Although Oakwood School decides to start focusing on the development of exploratory programs on the third year, they don’t mention anything about curriculum and how it would be designed. I would suggest that the team consider implementing a student-designed curriculum using the Curriculum Integration Model explained by Brown and Knowles (2007). The authors emphasize that a curriculum that follows the Curriculum Integration Model is developed by teachers and students together. It also takes into consideration the students’ concerns and questions rather than the demands of standardized achievement tests (131). In that way, the students are learning based on what is significant in their lives, they are also learning the principles of democracy and most importantly they feel motivated to learn.

I agree with the 3 year plan, except that I’d recommend that exploratory programs would also be developed on the first year. Effective middle schools answer to the needs of its young adolescents and implementing exploratory programs is an urgent matter since they motivate students to learn and help them develop skills that are fundamental for high school, college and real life.

References:

Brown, Dave F, and Trudy Knowles. What Every Middle School Teacher Should Know. 2nd ed. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2007. 290. Print.

Manning, M. Lee., and Katherine T. Bucher. Teaching in the Middle School. 4th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2012. Print.