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Teaching in Urban Districts
The main form of interaction that goes on in schools is between the teachers and the students. Some of the students are difficult or unruly and they present many difficulties for the teachers as the teachers cannot then organize the class and provide the level of quality education that they are capable of. Disruptive students require more attention from teachers and this stops teachers from giving adequate attention to the rest of the class. There are many behavioral problems with students, but there is no method of dealing with such students in United States. Even the solution that can be achieved through disciplinary action has to be determined by the local school board, and then those decisions will have to be implemented by the teachers and the principal. One of the methods through which this can be done is the student parent handbook which is distributed to the students for giving to parents. This may give details of actions that would be taken by the teachers and the principal of the school, if the student does not live up to the expectations of the school and in the class. Other schools even give full details of the punishment that the student may be given when there is any infraction by the student of the rules of the school. (Teachers' Relationships) At the same time, all punishments that are given are felt to be the responsibility of the teacher, by the student and the families of the students.
This brings us to the next level as we have to determine the type of punishment that can be given to the students. The limits of this range from verbal warnings to in-school suspensions, and when the student crosses limits of behavior, then the general recommendation is an out of school suspension. At the same time, some students are repeat offenders, and their punishment increases with the number of times they have caused an offense. The system of punishing students and still retaining them in the same school has now been questioned by some educationists, who have suggested that alternative schools be set up for them. This will permit the ordinary schools on teaching of students who have a lot of desire to learn. Another group has suggested that punishments start earlier, from primary school, and the punishments should be clarified with a clear system. The problem is that the parents are not aware of all these systems of the school, as they only go through the written material that they receive from schools and even that in a cursory manner. These do not make them respond and thus the parents' point-of-view remains unknown.
The parents meet and talk to the school authorities only during formal occasions like school open houses and teacher conferences, and at these occasions, most participants are reserved. It is possible for both teachers and parents to set up other meetings, but that action is taken only when the concerned student has problems regarding progress. Even during the process of their training, teachers do not receive much training regarding interaction with parents. As is well-known, training for becoming teachers takes place in colleges of education based in universities. The individuals who want to become teachers join up courses for both academic learning as also for courses in education. The combination is expected to teach them both the methods of teaching as also the contents that they desire to teach the students. On joining up for the first time, the students are expected to undergo a period of teaching students. There are some individuals who feel that a teacher who is still in the learning process should be left alone with students, others take the view that it may be better if they are supported by an experienced teacher during the first few weeks of teaching that they undertake. (Teachers' Relationships)
(1) The teacher also faces different challenges and those depend on the environment where they start teaching. Schools in urban areas are not individual schools, but are part of a large bureaucracy that is not able to act fast in response to the needs of the schools. These schools generally do not have many resources, and even the buildings are in poor condition in many cases. From outside the school, the environment within the school may be affected by gang activity, drug availability and usage on a large scale and there being a lack of community structure. Students who are coming to the school are burdened not only with educational requirements, but also carry the burden of poverty, hunger and poor housing. There is a feeling among the parents, teachers, principals and students that the school they are concerned with is something special and separate. This can be said to be the tone, climate or ethos of the school, and those seem to be related to all activities that are connected with the school. (NCREL Monograph: Building Collaborative Cultures)
This is a unique quality, a special school culture. This has an effect on the way they act, on how they dress, or even what they are continuously talking about or what they will never talk of. It also determines whether they seek help from others or they do not seek help. This culture of the school is built up of different norms, values, beliefs and assumptions and rituals. These are built up over time as teachers, students, parents and administrators have worked together, or dealt with crises and developed their own unstated expectations for interactions and methods of working together. On the other side there are some schools which remain as isolated places for working and there the teachers are left alone. They work alone in their rooms, and have little interaction with their colleagues. They keep the problems that they face to themselves. When one sees these schools, the teachers are islands -- they feel a gulf of separation from each other, seldom talk to other teachers, or share their points-of-view in terms of the profession or even solving their problems. (NCREL Monograph: Building Collaborative Cultures) The urban districts have schools which have had a much longer period of development than new schools which have come up in the suburban areas. This makes their cultural situation much more rigid, and any teacher has to adapt to them.
After their graduation from college and getting the necessary qualifications required to become a teacher, most of the teachers still end up working in isolation. The teachers do not get enough time to work along with other teachers, and this is happening even now when there are a lot of efforts being made to get greater involvement of the teachers. There are new efforts to improve the general quality of individuals who join as teachers. The effort is through a compulsory renewal of certificates needed for teaching, creating programs where the teachers will all have mentors and general improvement of their salaries and working conditions. The process of improvement and this is through decisions taken at the school itself. It becomes the responsibility of the teachers in the schools to have a plan for improvement of the school. That will set up objectives for the school and give the teachers a greater say in the methods of running the school. It is possible to have new methods of instruction like teaching in teams, cooperative learning and individualized instruction through the use of computers. There are also other ways through which the performance of teachers can be evaluated. The implementation of these methods encourages the teachers to help their students achieve new state level standards that have been set up. (Teachers' Relationships)
It is clear that schools where there is not enough satisfaction for the teachers will ultimately result in their leaving the school. It is not correct to say that low incentives are the main reason for their departure. In the city schools the teachers end up getting a salary less than they get in the schools of the suburbs, but that is not the main reason why they leave the school. There are many teachers who leave the school as they feel that they have not been getting enough support from the school administration. Within the school there are many intrusions during the time given for teaching in the class, there are a lot of problems of discipline of the students, and the teachers do not get a say as to how the school will be run. (Why Do High-Poverty Schools Have Difficulty Staffing Their Classrooms with Qualified Teachers?)
The degree of autonomy that is available to teachers in schools varies to a large extent. There are schools where the teachers have had the greatest role in development of the curricula and also helped the new teachers understand the curricula. On the other side, there are many schools where the teachers had to work with books that had been purchased and teach from them. There are a lot of differences within the teachers…[continue]
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