You recognize that in order for the small-group strategy to succeed, you need to provide sixth-grade reading teachers with ongoing professional development in reading instruction. In addition, influenced by the Guiding Resource Principles, you realize that in order to invest in teacher quality, teachers in all grade levels need time for professional development, including opportunities to collaborate on specific issues related to improving student performance. You also realize that providing this professional development time for all teachers might offset opposition to your plan.
You decide to talk with a colleague—a principal in a middle school of similar size within your district that serves the same grades—about successful ways to create such time for teachers. She suggests that you look at an alternative schedule that she is also considering—the 4 A/B block schedule. One benefit of this schedule format is an increased allotment of time for teacher development, collaboration, and planning. A second benefit of this type of schedule, one that directly aligns with the Guiding Resource Principles, is decreased teacher load (total student count) for some teachers. In turn (again in accordance with the Guiding Resource Principles), this increases individual attention and provides more personal learning environments for students. A third benefit of this scheduling format is that it allows students to spend a greater percentage of each school day in core academic subject areas. Your colleague offers to e-mail you the information she has on the 4 A/B block schedule.
From this information, you learn that the 4 A/B block schedule is based on a format of 8 periods over 2 days, with four 90-minute classes each day:
Days alternate on a continuous basis (i.e., if Friday is an “A” day, the following Monday is a “B” day, etc.).
This results in a teaching schedule of three 90-minute class periods to teach per day, plus one 90-minute period per day for professional development and/or collaborative and individual work at all grade levels.
Note: The 4 A/B block schedule represents a typical middle school student schedule. It does not represent a teacher schedule. There are many possible scheduling variations within the 4 A/B framework. Time for professional development and/or collaborative and individual work is scheduled according to school priorities, teacher/student needs, and union stipulations. For example, if collaborative time for sixth-grade reading teachers is a priority, they could be scheduled to teach during the first three periods of the day on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. This would make available the last period on those days to engage in targeted collaborative work.
In summary, the information your colleague sends you establishes that a 4 A/B block schedule would:
- Increase opportunity for professional development, including collaborative problem solving and planning time for all teachers.
- Decrease teacher load in some subject areas.
- Allow students to spend a greater percentage of each school day in the core academic subject areas of reading and math.
Although these three benefits to the 4 A/B block schedule align with the Guiding Resource Principles, you also become acutely aware of challenges to the schedule, based on calculations you make. Although teacher load in reading and math would decrease from 125 to 75 students, teacher load in social studies and science would increase from 125 to 150 students. In addition, although students would spend a higher percentage of each school day in reading and math classes, they would spend a lower percentage of each school day in social studies and science.
Note: See the “4 A/B Block Schedule Considerations” document for additional information about these considerations.
Not surprisingly, the social studies and science teachers voice strong concerns over this possible schedule change. You listen closely and decide that despite those concerns, you believe the benefits outweigh the challenges, and you continue to pursue the 4 A/B block schedule.
At the recommendation of your colleague, you also decide to explore the possibility of hiring a full-time reading coach to provide professional development for the sixth-grade reading teachers, as well as all other teachers at Chester Middle School.
You have “done your homework,” conferring with colleagues and researching effective practices in middle school scheduling. You believe that adopting the 4 A/B block schedule and hiring a full-time professional reading coach would further the LMS goal of improving reading among sixth-grade students (as well as other students in the school) without undermining opportunities for other students to continue to learn at high levels. Now you must determine a feasible way to reallocate resources to realize both of these options.
With no new money in the budget, you weigh your options. You examine your resource allocation and realize that you could achieve your goals by:
- Eliminating additional non-instructional positions (the strategy you implemented to finance small-group time in sixth-grade reading classes)
- And/orIncreasing class size
You contact your colleague to learn how she is addressing these financial challenges. You learn that:
- To fund the 4 A/B block schedule, you would need to eliminate position(s) whose total compensation (i.e., salary plus benefits) total $304,084 (plus or minus $13,750).
- To hire a full-time reading coach, you would need to eliminate position(s) whose total compensation (i.e., salary plus benefits) total $82,932 (plus or minus $3,750).
Your colleague e-mails you a guide that she designed a “Funding for Professional Development and Collaborative Planning Time Worksheet” that will help to determine which combination of resources you will need to reallocate in order to implement both of these options.
Note: The Funding for Professional Development and Collaborative Planning Time Worksheet is under Resources.
Once you have completed the worksheet, you will have the pertinent information you need to determine your course of action (i.e., the strategic option or options that will best serve Chester Middle School and its goals).
Write a 2- to 3-page report that summarizes your specific plan for the reallocation of resources necessary to:
- Adopt the 4 A/B block schedule at Chester Middle School.
- Hire a full-time reading coach for all teachers at Chester Middle School.
- Include a justification for any trade-offs you will have to make.
Be sure to support your Assignment with specific references to the resources and other current literature in the W. Library. The Assignment should follow 6th Edition APA Guidelines.
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