Over the last few years, I have had an opportunity to teach both undergraduate and graduate level classes on the university level. While teaching in the graduate school I became interested in doing some post-doctoral research and possibly publishing an article comparing our diverse classes of today with the one room schoolhouse of the past. It has been a long-term task and over the last couple of years I have gone on several different tangents and my interest have taken me in a few different directions with regard to the topic. But basically, I have always been interested in education in eighteenth and nineteenth century America. The small, rural, one room schoolhouse has always intrigued me.
I have always been impressed, and really had a reverence for, the teacher in the one room schoolhouse. These teachers had to know their students intimately. These saintly teachers had to know what level their students were working on, adjust their curriculum individually (or at least in small groups), evaluate all the students on different grade and ability levels, while not neglecting the other students in the class. All this was decades or even a century before terms like 'differentiated instruction' and 'learning styles' had even been considered.
I suppose I have been particularly interested in teachers being able to juggle all that they do because, prior to becoming a district superintendent, I had served as a district level special education director for several years. During that time, I was amazed at the ability of talented inclusion teachers that could manage to teach students with diverse learning styles and ability levels, all in the same classroom, and at the same time. Whether it is a regular education teacher with inclusion students with special needs in their class or a kindergarten teacher that has twenty new students coming to them in August (all on different readiness levels), these teachers have always amazed me at their ability to keep them all learning, and at their level. It is very hard and takes special, dedicated teachers to do it.
These days, with even more challenges like 504 plans, IEPs, different readiness levels, diverse learning styles, the every day high and low stakes testing accountability, keeping it all straight must seem impossible. As hard as it must have been for the one room schoolhouse teacher, we have exponentially taken it to an even higher level.
With all that said, that is why when I tell superintendents, curriculum leaders, and other administrators that, ‘I believe in our product’, I truly mean it. I know, first hand, how much we ask, and demand, out of our teachers. And, I know how hard it is for them. But, I believe when we have an opportunity to put any tool that saves teachers time that can be spent on quality instruction in the hands of our teachers, we have a duty to try to do it. SchoolStatus can help the teachers to have data at their fingertips, and helps them to make true data-driven decisions and not semi-data driven guesses. We ask our teachers for a lot. If there is anything we can do to help them, or to save them time, so that they have more time for instruction, we should.
I truly believe in what our company does. I believe we help the administrators to help the teachers to help the children. It's all in a day's work.
Dr. Terry Larabee really knows his stuff. With a successful career in education before joining the SchoolStatus team, he knows what it's like to be in the trenches. Check out the tools that Terry is so excited about here.