I admit, two teacher salaries are twice as expensive. It adds to the Head of School’s or Principal’s hiring demands. It is challenging because of funding demands. Sometimes, there are conflicts. It’s highly unusual (Even independent and private schools hire one teacher and reduce the number of students to lower student-teacher ratios if they can afford to do that or they include their specialist area teachers in their overall ratio count instead of just the regular classroom teachers). It means more professional development to fund. Scheduling joint planning times can be challenging. It requires more collaboration and teamwork.
So why does Virginia Chance School have two teachers in every classroom?
The short answer: It has valuable and lasting benefits for student learning and the teachers. It matters and makes a significant difference to both.
What’s in it for the students?
Everything - students have everything to gain with these substantial and compelling advantages:
- Student-teacher ratios remain low (resulting in higher student achievement and lasting academic benefits). Low ratios are especially important in the early grades.
- There is more differentiated instruction.
- Students have higher levels of achievement (and better test scores).
- It results in proven higher student self-esteem.
- It is safer because there are four eyes and ears instead of two.
- Students have two role models instead of one.
- There is more support for struggling students and expanded learning for students who are ready for more.
- There are more opportunities for ongoing, authentic assessment of student learning which guides instruction.
- Students build meaningful relationships with two adults and have two different personalities to experience and enjoy.
- There is more listening to your child.
- Students get more one-on-one time with a teacher.
- There is more social and emotional support.
- Small group and individual, one-on-one instruction is enhanced and provided more often.
- Students see teamwork, cooperation and collaboration modeled every day.
- There are two professional educators to plan more creative and useful lessons and experiences.
- There are more teaching strategies and methods used to reach all students.
- Students get more individual attention and have less need to compete for the teacher’s attention
- Student achievement and success are higher with two teachers in the classroom.
- Stimulating questions, and inquiry-based learning opportunities offered more often, yielding more student critical thinking, discovery and learning.
- When one teacher is out, and there is a substitute teacher, the remaining teacher provides consistency and continuous learning.
- There are more problem-solving ideas because there are two teacher perspectives to support the students’ problem-solving growth.
- There is a shared responsibility for student learning - all students are “our students”.
- No student “falls through the cracks” because teachers are available to attend to the students and their needs every day.
- Double the love and commitment for each child!
What’s in it for the teachers?
All of the above positively affect the teachers in addition to these essential and meaningful benefits:
- There is another professional to consult and process issues with.
- Teachers have more support and can help each other.
- Lesson planning is richer, more thorough and creative with two brains working together.
- Teachers learn from one another.
- Teachers have more time for reflection that enhances teaching and learning.
- A shared workload is sh.
- There is less frustration and feelings of being overwhelmed.
- Collaboration and team teaching are enhanced, realized and effective.
- Teachers can discuss assessment results and have a better understanding of each students’ strengths and needs.
- Two teachers are observing students instead of just one resulting in more documentation of student learning, more accountability and more knowledge of the students.
- Teachers can use and see more teaching strategies from one another, thereby learning from each other.
- Parent questions and concerns are responded to more quickly.
- There is more teacher cooperation and less competition in the classroom and the school.
- The teachers’ strengths complement one another.
- Teachers don’t get bogged down with administrative work.
- Even when there is a substitute teacher, there is one teacher who keeps the consistency in the classroom and with the students.
- Teachers feel successful and know they are making a difference.
- There is less teacher “burnout.”
- Teachers provide feedback to one another, an important step in the learning process for teachers.
- There is more mutual respect and better relationships among teachers.
- Teachers have more fun and experience more joy!
There you have it: We commit to doing what is more expensive, more difficult, and more unusual because it is more impactful. We go above and beyond for our students and for our teachers because it matters. It makes a difference every day. It makes a difference in their long-term success because where you start matters.