Friday, October 23, 2009

Bluewater update No. 12

The Owen Sound Sun Times and the folks over at MendEd are as usual ahead of me on updating folks on Bluewater District School Board stuff.
Maria Canton reported Wednesday on the increase in the number of Grade 7-8 classes using a rotary instruction style over the previous school year. The rotary instruction issue was one of a few that led to the outcry from parents, the resignation of a board chair and the appointment of two "Mr. Fix-its" to visit the board and complete a review on how it could fix its problems of accountability and transparency.
There are 108 intermediate classes in 35 different Bluewater elementary schools.
The rotary model of instruction uses specialty teachers, such as science or music teachers, for certain subjects instead of homeroom teachers.
The topic became an issue almost two years ago when Bluewater moved more classes to the homeroom teacher model over the rotary-based model.
The decision prompted great outcry from the public, particularly from parent and school groups in the Kincardine and Port Elgin areas, who argued they were not consulted and that students would suffer if they weren’t given the option of being taught by teachers who specialized in certain subject matters.
The board relented in June and agreed to reinstate the rotary model of instruction for students in Grades 7 and 8 for up to half of their timetable.
Interesting. Doing the math, it shows an average of three Grade 7 and 8 classes per elementary school in the board. With variations for population distribution, that means there's a good percentage of schools that likely have only one or two Grade 7 and 8 classes, with some having four or five classes at this age level.
Rotary works when there is a critical mass to support the teachers rotating through the various classes to instruct their subject specialties. While the board appears to have appeased the desire for rotary for the time being, the question of its continuance will vary greatly in the coming years with declining enrolment. After all, how much rotary instruction can you do when there's only one intermediate (Gr. 7/8) class in the whole school, and therefor only one teacher?


RetDir said...

ER - you are right that school size is an issue. However, so is the amount of preparation time elementary teachers get in their contracts. The more prep time the more rotary there will be from K - 8. If they ever do 'close the gap' (less likely than ever in the current economic climate)with secondary teachers in this regard all students in elementary schools will be on rotary, which is not a good environment, for the very young in particular.