It is a known fact that school districts across the country are dealing with lack of funding and are being forced to make some unpopular decisions. The desire to have highly qualified and effective teachers in the classrooms is not a new concept. But, is it right to eliminate school based support positions before exploring other measures? Seems that media specialists/school librarians, literacy coaches, guidance counselors, and behavior specialists are facing elimination. They are needed back in the classroom, where they will have a ‘direct’ impact on improving student test scores. It is said that a non-instructional person can run the media center. Is it possible that people really think a school media specialist only checks out books?
I’ve always felt that the media center of the school was the information hub. Teachers come in to gather resources for class instruction, meet and plan with the media specialist who makes suggestions, offers guidance, and creates a team approach to the lesson planning. Students come in to find that perfect story, the second book in a new series they’ve started, to learn how to properly search for information on the internet and to learn skills that will help the child understand what is being read; if it is fact or opinion.
So often other tasks gain importance for support personnel. I was once assigned breakfast duty that lasted 30 minutes. I was in an elementary school and my main duty was supervising and assisting students who came to breakfast. After they ate, it was also my duty to wipe down the tables and sweep the floor. The last line of my job description was, “to complete any assigned task from the Principal." I also had a duty in the afternoon to provide supervision to students waiting for daycare. An hour a day doesn’t sound like much, but over the course of the week that time could have been used to assist teachers, to mentor a student or provide individual help. I’ve experienced a lot in my 39 year educational career. I’m having a hard time dealing with some of the proposed changes. I know it will have a negative impact on student learning.
How do you cope with unpopular school decisions?
I agree with you, Jeanne, that school support staff are an essential part of the school community and without them, a teacher's job is almost impossible.
Media specialists definitely do more than check out books. In the middle school where I taught, the media specialist taught classes daily in the library; encouraged reading through various projects; ordered, processed, cleaned, and shelved books; sent out overdue notices; supported the teachers' curriculum with appropriate student resources; ran a book fair; maintained a library website; and so much more.
Students often respond best to one-on-one teaching and literacy coaches help students learn the essentials of reading--a skill needed to cope with everyday life as well as a career.
Who can imagine a school without guidance counselors? So many students arrive at school with problems beyond the time and expertise of the classroom teacher. In addition, guidance counselors are essential to help students select courses and determine their future educational direction.
Behavior specialists help students with special needs survive in the average classroom. Without these professionals, many students can fall through the cracks and never experience success.
There are so many support personnel that make a school run smoothly. If teachers have to assume the duties of these individuals, when will they teach?