Same class doesn’t mean same education

by | December 11, 2017 | in Opinions | No Comments

I can’t think straight. Formulas jumble around in my head but I can only focus on my friend. I spent all night studying while he could do other homework. I have to memorize equations and variables, while he got to use his notebook during the test. This isn’t fair.

At PHS, only four of 54 teachers teach all sections of one course. For example, Jeanine Sohn, who alone teaches World Cultures, ensures all World Cultures students will be subject to uniform expectations. Eight more teachers teach multiple courses but teach all sections of those courses. An example of this is John Savage, who teaches both Honors Chemistry and Anatomy, and is the only one who teaches each of those specific classes. The students in classes taught by these teachers receive the same lessons, teaching styles, and grading styles. They are guaranteed a consistent education with their classmates in the same course. This is ideal.

In contrast, when multiple teachers are teaching the same course, a student’s learning experience can vary greatly. A full-time teacher teaches five periods. So for courses with five or fewer periods, only one teacher should teach that course. This ensures consistency for students and allows that teacher to focus on his or her one course. However, this is not always the case. Our current situation puts students at disadvantages, since no two teachers lecture, prepare, or instruct students identically. One teacher may be very easy-going while another may be stricter, and a student’s grade and education will vary based on that teacher.

Unfortunately, this cannot always happen at a school like PHS. For some required classes such as English 1-2, taken by all freshman, there are too many sections of the class to be taught by only one teacher. Some teachers also prefer teaching more than one course at a time, as they enjoy the variation in their schedule, and find it too repetitive to teach the same course over and over. In addition, some teachers are not qualified to teach some of the more advanced classes, limiting the classes they are able to teach.

Given that this situation is unavoidable, some teachers and departments work hard to coordinate their plans and expectations. The teachers in the English department, for example, held a meeting at the beginning of the school year to coordinate how they would teach their classes. They set standards like number of essays and which books they had to read, but this was only focused on the year long goals of the class, not the day to day issues. With more communication between teachers to ensure they progress at the same rate and cover similar material, students would know they are receiving a more consistent education. Communication would help standardize test schedules, classroom rules, and issues such as open-note tests, to make our system as ideal as possible.

School should be a place where students learn and develop, and a place where education is more uniform. Communication and collaboration between teachers would allow for more similar teaching styles to help students. While each teacher brings his or her own mindset and ideology to teaching, consistency between the teachers teaching the same courses would enable students to progress most effectively. This would ensure a more similar education and experience for all students, so I can focus on my own test rather than my friend’s.