This is the last post of the series “How to Select an Appropriate Secondary School”
Teachers are the key influencers on your child’s success in school. They are, technically, the frontline staff to develop your child’s intellectual and emotional growth. How these teachers are groomed and looked after are very dependent on the leadership, growth prospects and staff welfare provided. If you come across a school where the turnover rate is high and they often have to utilise contract or adjunct teachers, you can be sure your child will definitely be a very likely victim of this arrangement and will affect the consistency of your child’s academic performance.
Contract/ Adjunct Teachers
While every school has a mix of contract and adjunct teachers, it may be good for a parent to find out their length of their stay and the positions they used to hold. Most of these adjunct teachers are former teachers who just resigned or older teachers who have left the service for quite some time. If some of the adjunct teachers are of a very senior age, find out the classes they are usually placed in charge in. Chances are, many of them will be given the N(T) classes and if that is so – discipline may be an issue.
Many teachers enter teaching due to passion and eventually leaves the service when their passion dies out due to overwhelming administrative work. Teachers are often given many responsibilities to juggle such as running of CCAs to planning and organising events to even conducting CCAs for some schools! Although it can be very difficult to find nowadays but a good school will try their best to balance the responsibilities and duties of their teaching staff so that they will have enough time to recharge, renew and to improve teaching strategies through self-reflection . If a principal proudly boasts of how much work their teachers are putting in, take caution and ask if ‘burn-outs’ or ways the teachers recharge themselves. If the programs organised for teachers by schools are often met with low participation levels, it may give signs that the teachers may be overworked.
Lastly, a quick way to check if teachers are working together is to find out if standard materials or resources have been shared among the teachers while teaching the various levels. Some of you may ask – if all teachers have the same materials; won’t it display that the teachers are ‘slacking ‘ off as they do not personalised the materials? On the contrary, a standard set of materials should be developed and organised in folders so that the teachers are able to access them and use when necessary. The personalisation of materials to a class’ competency level comes under the discretion of the respective teachers with those sets.
If you ask around and find that different classes have different materials for a single subject AND level, it may be a sign that there is little guidance from the senior teachers in terms of material and resource development and teachers are not sharing their expertise and materials. There will be a lack of standardisation of assignments and ultimately, marks and performances.
This is the final post of the series. I hope they have been helpful for you.