Departmentalization

Imagine you are building a house. You approach a company to build it and you are given two options. Option one is to have the house framed by a framer, the plumbing done by a plumber, the wiring done by an electrician, and so on until the house is completed. The second option is to have one person frame the house, plumb it, wire it, and so on until the house if completed. I believe that every serious person would request the first option for obvious reasons.

Why it is then that we set up our elementary school similar to the second option? We ask elementary school teachers to teach math, science, reading, writing, and history; a recipe for disaster. I have known of many teachers that teach their best subjects well and “get through” the subjects they are not as familiar with. I even heard of one teacher that stopped teaching science altogether because she did not like science and nobody kept her accountable.

At Loveland Classical Schools, we follow the procedure that is akin to the first option. This is known as “departmentalization.” Beginning in the 1st grade, mathematicians teach mathematics, scientists teach science, historians teach history, and so on. Each teacher teaches his/her specialty and passion! We build the students’ education by having experts teach them. Students in 1st through 5th grades stay in one classroom while the teachers travel to the students. Each class is 45 minutes long ensuring each subject ample time through the year. Departmentalization has many benefits.

In a traditional elementary school setting, if a student is struggling the parents have few options. One is to contact the teacher and hope that the teacher has the ability to help their child. The departmentalization model has a solution. Teachers at Loveland Classical Schools are required to meet together for one hour every day after school. This time is not meant to prepare lessons or grade papers. This time is for educational and academic improvement through departmental curriculum discussions, grade-level interdisciplinary discussions, or sessions on effective teaching. Several days are set aside specifically to discuss struggling students and how to best help them. A traditional elementary model has one teacher working for your student. At LCS, we have a team of teachers working toward the development of your student.

A Classroom Coordinator (CC) assists in each classroom, and stays with one class for the entire day. This establishes the relationship most familiar to younger students. Many schools have aids; however our CCs have additional responsibilities. When Suzie acts up in class the CC can ask Suzie to be quiet and engage in the lesson. When Jonny has a doctor’s appointment at 11:15, the CC takes him to the front office to ensure he is ready when his parents come to pick him up. If Billy accidentally cuts himself with a pair of scissors the CC takes him to see the school nurse. Having someone do the administrative tasks of the classroom, the teacher is able to focus on teaching and the lesson. If the CC can save five minutes a day in a typical 45-minute class it translates into approximately 14 hours or about 19 extra classes for the school year. This is nearly four additional weeks of school!

There are many instances where an elementary student does not get along with his or her teacher. When this happens, parents are in a difficult position. They can approach the teacher, but are often fearful that doing so may trigger the teacher to “take it out on their student.” Whether this is true or not does not matter, the fear and possibility is real. Having a CC alleviates the situation. The CC becomes the first point of contact for parents in an effort to best help the student.

The traditional model of elementary education is a hardship on students and teachers. Students are not given the best education and teachers are asked to teach subjects they are not prepared to teach. Loveland Classical Schools is following a model that is already in place in many areas, but has not yet infiltrated the myopic views of a conventional elementary educational system. Departmentalization lowers the stress of teachers and opens the door to more academic progress for the students. Welcome aboard to innovative thinking.

David Yu, Principal