A more intimate relationship between teachers and students at Shepard and Caruso Middle Schools is a primary goal of the new scheduling format sixth, seventh and eighth grade students in Deerfield Public Schools District 109.
Children will be divided into teams at each school with four teachers giving instruction in core subjects, according to a report given by administrators and teachers at Monday’s Board of Education meeting.
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“We will have the same academic rigor but more student focus,” Shepard Principal Michael Shapiro said. “The same team (of teachers) will focus on the same group of kids.” The team of four teachers will be able to meet regularly to exchange ideas about each student’s needs.
Monday’s presentation will be given again for parents and other community members at 7 p.m. today at Caruso. There will be an opportunity for people to ask questions.
Shapiro and Caruso Principal Brian Bullis assured the Board the teams would be balanced with both including children at all ends of the academic spectrum. The program will begin with the 2013-14 school year. Teams will likely be changed when children move to the next grade.
With teachers teaching one team, they will have the opportunity to notice more about individual traits with all four instructors getting a better handle on the children.
“Behavior problems will lessen,” Caruso teacher Jennifer Gold said. She is one of the people contributing to the new plan. “Small teams can focus on social emotional needs. Everyone has their eyes on the same things. They will get to know all the students better.”
The four core subjects—math, science, language arts and social studies—will be taught for an hour a day. The other disciplines, dubbed encore classes by Shapiro, will continue to be offered for 40 minutes. They include world language, art, music and physical education.
The one hour instruction for each core class is not set in stone every day. When one subject requires extra time, the teachers on the team can work together to tailor student needs.
“There can be more balance,” Gold said. “They are not bound by a bell. If they need a little more time for social studies they can take it.”
The program is still a work in progress, according to Shapiro. “There are still some big rocks we need to move,” he said. One of those is getting students to ignore a bell signaling the start of the next period if they have a longer science lab that day.