By Mareska Chettiar, Staff Reporter I just submitted my Scarlet Letter analysis essay. It was stressful, and I put in a lot of time to make it as refined as possible. But, when I told my friends about it, they were confused why I had to write one in the first place. Some of them...
By Mareska Chettiar, Staff Reporter
I just submitted my Scarlet Letter analysis essay. It was stressful, and I put in a lot of time to make it as refined as possible. But, when I told my friends about it, they were confused why I had to write one in the first place. Some of them had a test weeks ago, while others were doing a creative project. Right down the hall, another class was watching a movie with the book and didn’t have the assignment due for another week.
I was baffled. How are we all doing vastly different things while taking the same course at the same level?
Here lies the curriculum’s conundrum — though covering the same material and skills, our classes are often different in grading and assessments. This results in unfair advantages, where assignments are graded leniently or harshly depending on the teacher, differences in workload and rifts in synchronization.
Having a more similar course overall would be beneficial in multiple ways. Students would share activities throughout classes, have a fair experience in assessment and grading and would read the same books at roughly the same time, allowing collaboration and discussion outside the parameters of their own classroom.
Surprisingly, there is a simple solution to achieve this: more planning time. If teachers had more district-allotted planning time to personally collaborate, plan lessons and share ideas, many classes would be doing more similar things in the same timeframe.
Though departments meet once a month for about an hour and on inservice days, teachers do not have time to personally collaborate on the curriculum apart from those times. For example, Honors American Voices teachers share calendars to try and keep their classes on the same track, but content covered and grading methods remain unique to each class. While grading rubrics are shared across classes for some cumulative projects, they are rarely used in smaller assignments that make up most of students’ grades.
While teaching the same lesson on a rigid schedule is almost impossible in a subjective class like English, similar content and grading rubrics are not the only ways to get the department on the same page. If teachers engage in creating common assessments with fixed dates, they will retain their creative freedom with classroom content while still providing a fair experience to students.
Though some argue that classes that are too similar could become monotonous and restrict creativity in both teachers and students, having synced classes would be more beneficial in both social and academic aspects. Students could discuss the material in the same timeframe and collaborate outside their classrooms, and similar assessments of the content would ensure fairness. As for teachers, they could share ideas to find a middle ground where content taught isn’t the same, thus retaining creative freedom.
Though specific issues may arise with keeping all the classes together, like a teacher not wanting to cover specific material or there not being enough books to go around for all classes, there are multiple pathways for change and improvement in how English classes are conducted.
Other departments would also benefit from district-allotted personal collaboration time between teachers to further enrich the lessons given. The district’s mission to ensure equality in education would also be facilitated with this action, and students would be highly satisfied with synced and equitable classes.
Mareska Chettiar can be reached at [email protected]
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