TODAY -

Issues schools face that negatively impact student learning

Philemon *

Morning Dew School situated at Kapaar Kachoung Village under Kakching, Manipur
Morning Dew School situated at Kapaar Kachoung Village under Kakching, Manipur :: Pix - Shonnai Saka



Schools face challenges on a daily basis that negatively impacts student learning. Administrators and teachers work hard to overcome these challenges, but it is often an uphill climb. No matter what strategies we implement there are some factors that will likely never be eliminated. Schools must do their best to minimize the impacts these issues have while maximizing student learning.

It is important to note that every school is different. Not every school will face all of the challenges discussed below, though the majority of schools across India face more than one of these issues. The overall makeup of the community surrounding the school has a significant impact on the school itself. Schools facing a large portion of these issues will not see significant internal changes until external issues are addressed and changed within the community.

Bad Teachers

I believe that the vast majority of teachers are effective teachers.These effective teachers are sandwiched in between the great teachers and the bad teachers.There are bad teachers, and while they represent a small sample size of teachers, they are often the ones who generate the most publicity.

A bad teacher can set a student or group of students back considerably. They can create significant learning gaps making the next teacher's job that much harder. A bad teacher can foster an atmosphere full of discipline issues and chaos establishing a pattern that is extremely difficult to break. They can shatter a student's confidence and overall morale. The effects can be disastrous and nearly impossible to reverse.

Discipline Issues

Discipline issues cause distractions. Distractions add up and limit learning time. Every time a teacher has to handle a discipline issue they lose valuable instructional time. Lost time adds up quickly. In addition, each time a student is sent to the office on a discipline referral that student loses valuable instruction time. The bottom line is that any discipline issue will result in the loss of instruction time, which limits a student's learning potential.

For these reasons, teachers and administrators must be able to minimize these disruptions. Teachers can do this by providing a structured learning environment and engaging students in exciting, dynamic lessons that captivate students and keep them from being bored. Administrators must create well written policies that hold students accountable. They should educate parents and students on these policies. Administrators must be firm, fair, and consistent when dealing with any student discipline issue.

Lack of Proper Funding

Funding has a significant impact on student performance. A lack in funding typically leads to larger class sizes and less technology and curriculum materials. The more students a teacher has the less attention they can pay to each individual students. This can become significant when you have a class full of 30-40 students at varying academic levels.

Teachers must be equipped with engaging tools covering the standards they are required to teach. Technology is a tremendous academic tool, but it is also pricey to purchase, maintain, and upgrade. Curriculum in general continuously changes and needs updated, but most states curriculum adoption run in five year cycles. At the end of the five year cycles, the curriculum is totally outdated and physically worn out.

Lack of Student Motivation

There are many students who simply do not care about attending school or putting in the effort necessary to maintain their grades. It is extremely frustrating to have a pool of students who are only there because they have to be. An unmotivated student may initially be on grade level, but they will fall behind only to wake up one day and realize it is too late to catch up.

A teacher or administrator can only do so much to motivate a student. Ultimately it is up to them as to whether or not they decide to change. There are many students in schools across India with tremendous potential who choose not to live up to that potential.

Over Mandating

In my views Federal and state mandates are taking their tolls on school districts across the country. There are so many new requirements each year that schools do not have the time or resources to implement and maintain them all successfully. Most of the mandates are backed with good intentions, but the spacing of these mandates puts schools in a bind. They are often unfunded and require a lot of extra time that could be spent in other critical areas.

Poor Attendance

Students cannot learn if they are not there. It is frustrating that so many parents allow their children to stay home with no legitimate reason other than they do not want to come to school. Missing just ten days of school each year from Kindergarten to tenth grade adds up to missing almost an entire school year by the time they graduate. There are some students that have the ability to overcome poor attendance, but many who have a chronic attendance problem fall behind and stay behind.

Schools must hold students and parents accountable for consistent excessive absences. Schools must have a solid attendance policy in place that specifically addresses excessive absences. Teachers cannot do their jobs if students are not required to show up on a daily basis.

Poor Parental Support

It is true that parents are typically the most influential people in every aspect of a child's life. This is especially true when it comes to education. There are exceptions to the rule, but typically if the parents value education, their children will be academically successful. Parental involvement is essential to educational success.

Parents who provide their children with a solid foundation before school begins and stay involved throughout school will reap the benefits as their children will likely be successful.

Likewise, parents who are minimally involved with their child's education have a significant negative impact. This can be extremely frustrating for teachers. It is a continuous uphill battle. These students are often behind when they start school due to a lack of exposure. It is extremely difficult to catch them up. These parents believe it is the school's job to educate and not theirs, when in truth it has to be a partnership.

Poverty

In our context poverty has a significant impact on student learning. There has been much research to support this statement. Those students living in affluent well educated homes are often academically successful while those living in poverty are typically behind academically.

Poverty is a difficult obstacle to overcome. It occurs generation over generation and becomes the accepted norm, which makes it almost impossible to break. Though education is a significant part of breaking the grips of poverty, most of these students are so far behind academically that they will never get that opportunity.

Shift in Instructional Focus

When schools fail, administrators and teachers almost always take the brunt of the blame. This is understandable, but the responsibility of educating should not fall solely on the school. This deferred shift in educational responsibility is one of the greatest reasons that we see a perceived decline in public schools across India.

I would argue that teachers are doing a far superior job of educating their students today than they ever have been. However, the time spent teaching the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic has been significantly decreased due to increased demands to teach many things that used to be taught at home.

Anytime you add new instructional requirements you must take away time spent on something else. The time spent in schools rarely increases, yet the burden fall to schools to add courses such as sex education and personal financial literacy into their daily schedule without an increase in time to do so.


* Philemon wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Principal, Christian Grammar School, Tamenglong.
This article was posted on October 23, 2015.


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