Old school vs. New School..........

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-04-2003
Old school vs. New School..........
Fri, 09-03-2004 - 10:50am
Hello my fellow teachers!! How have the first weeks been going for ya?? Well mine has been eventful to say the LEAST. Anywhoo.....

My question is this?? Which teacher are you in your heart?? Old school or New School. This has nothing to do with age. I am talking about teaching styles. See..

As an elementary school teacher it is my job to teach all 4 core subjects, well you guys know that. But more and more elementary teachers are trying to team teach so they don't have to be responsible for teaching all subjects. Now....

I do understand that. If your strength or major is in one particular area and that is what you are best at, then I can understand why you would want to concentrate on that area. However, I personally (and this is just me)find it a tad lazy. Now...

I know that middle school and high school teachers do this all the time and that's fine. Also, I know that team teaching in some schools does work very well and it does get the children ready for all the movement and platooning they do when they get to middle school and high school. So I do see the validity in it and if I had to do it, I would. However...

It does depend on the motives of the teachers and that's what bothers me, I don't team teach with people who will clearly state that they HATE teaching a certain subject and don't want to do it. UGH!! What happened to improving yourself?? See...

I personally can teach (at the elementary level anyway) 3 of the four core subjects quite well. (up to 5th grade that is) My area of "emerging proficiency" is science. But because much of science is about observation and discovery, I simply tell the children, "Let's all discover this together. Your teacher is learning this too." I guess...

I am just "old school" at heart. It is not our job to be ROAD SCHOLARS on every subject. As an elementary teacher, it is our job to INTRODUCE them to certain things and they must continue the journey. So I just get a little pissed when I hear teachers say, "I don't want to teach that subject, cause I am not good at it." Yes, Language Arts and Social Studies are my FORTE if you will, but Math and Science are something that even as a teacher I would like to improve my knowledge of. So....

I bring this up because my "old" team members from last year, who were moved down to third grade, have "convinced" their new team member to "team teach." One will teach all the kids math, the other will teach all the kids science, the other will teach all the kids social studies. They tried to get me to do this last year but when I heard their reasoning,(I don't want to teach all subjects) I just said no. I just got the sneaky feeling it was so they wouldn't be held responsible for all the subjects. Anywhooo..

I am just curious if I am being too hard nosed about this. I mean if I were in a school who required this, I would make the adjustment, but I still love the idea of exploring, teaching, and learning ALL subjects with my kids. My certification is in K-5 all subjects, not TEACH WHAT YOU LIKE SUBJECTS. Am I too rigid?? Cause...

Again, I do see both sides of this, but I like the challenge it poses to me to improve my knowledge base every year and I do that. Okay, talk to me ladies.



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-23-2003
Fri, 09-03-2004 - 5:48pm
I think the better question is what is best for the children at each grade level.

I'm not so sure it's great for 3rd graders to rotate teachers. But, MHO.

Our 2nd grade teachers do trade off highest and lowest reading groups but not for the whole year and not for the whole class. If one teacher only has 1 very low or very high reader he or she talks to another teacher.


Avatar for foxinsox1
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 09-03-2004 - 9:16pm
I'd have to agree that rotating teachers at that age seems a bit too young. I thought the purpose of elementary school was that the students stay with one teacher and not have the stress of moving until middle school?

I think the idea that teachers teaching what they are best at is great; however, if that's the case look into teaching middle or high school. If you're expected to teach all subjects and choose JUST to focus on what you do best, I'd have to ask - is it about the teacher or is it about the kids? The kids have to come first and if the teacher feels ill qualified to teach certain subjects because of a lack of experience or liking - then either get more experience or teach at a higher level.

As for team teaching, I absolutely LOVED it at the middle school level and did if for five years with a history teacher. We were so good at it that we developed a real strength because we complimented each other very well and made our lessons interdisciplinary. It was great that I thought when it ended a couple of years ago that I would be devestated, but you know I wasn't. I enjoy having the independence now and much smaller group of kids. I saw the benefits of teaching both ways and each had its positives and negatives.

When you say "old" school, I always think of that as being how I was taught... lecture, read book, take notes, take test etc. I do not do that at all. I am very hands on and rather kids that their experiences to the classroom, so that they can relate to what we're doing. They seem to learn better when they are having more fun and I'm having fun too. I call that, well not old school....so, I don't know if it's "new" school or not.

Don't know if that was the response you were looking for, but there it is...

Have a good one!


iVillage Member
Registered: 06-04-2003
Sat, 09-04-2004 - 8:01am
Okay, let me clear this up. When I say "old" school, I mean teaching all subjects as an elementary teacher and being strict on discpline and not "coddling" students all the time. I guess I just get attached to my kids and I feel like other teachers don't know them like I do and I just want them with me. I am held responsible for them, then I should be the one to teach them what they need to know. So, on my part, it's just a little bit of possessiveness (is that a word?). Anywhoo.....

You answered my question perfectly. Thanks foxinsox. By the way....

How's your year going so far??


Avatar for foxinsox1
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 09-04-2004 - 10:01am
Hey GT:

YES, I absolutely AGREE with NOT coddling them. I think, unfortunately, we middle school teachers look to the elementary and wonder why these kids sometimes have no independence. I'm sure the high school teachers do the same to us...whether it's valid or not? I think the biggest problem in our schools today is apathy. Students seem to expect things given to them without the effort - I don't know if it's tv, computers, whatever, but apathy seems to run rampid in even the best of students.

I am a pretty strict disciplinarian in my classroom. I've had to learn to be hard up front and ease on the reins as the year goes on. It's one of those hard lessons you learn in your first year when things get chaotic and well, you'll never make the mistake again. I think if you can teach them responsibility - having to be responsible for their work, their behavior and their relationships then that's a plus. You don't have to me mean or ugly about discipline, but let them know there are consequences to poor choices. Positive discipline is probably the key. If you don't have discipline than well, might as well forget everything else.

As for my year, well let's see...I wish the year could just begin. We had off for hurricane Charley - one week. A day Friday for hurricane Frances and WHO knows after it hits tonight when we'll go back. It's such a pain. HOWEVER, the kids have been superb. I thought they'd be a little crazy after having the time off and I briefly restarted the year with our goals etc, but they fell right into place. I've had them do some cool activities relating to the hurricanes. We were escaping Florida, so with a map they had to write story about their escape, well specifically mentioning routes out of FL and desination. Last week (well, it's now Frances) I assigned them a journal in which they had to imagine they were in the center of the storm (which gee low and behold according to the maps may actually pass right over our little town) and they had to write a descriptive essay about their experiences. Those should be fun to read. We did do a really cool imagination essay and they were drawing pics to go with their essay. Do you know I had music on - kids were reading other kids' essays and they still maintained their indoor voices AND were on task. Yes, minor chit chat about the activity, which I don't mind at all. IMHO I think people think an absolutely quiet classroom is learning. I don't agree with that at all. Quiet is necessary in some cases, but shouldn't be expected as the norm.

Well, that's what we're up to currently. Hanging on tight til this storm passes through!


iVillage Member
Registered: 06-04-2003
Sat, 09-04-2004 - 12:23pm
Oh I totally agree. Complete silence is never necessary. Productive noise is always encouraging. You have to give them room to be kids. I am so sorry you guys have been hit with such bad weather. It will pass and you will be back to school in no time. Take care of yourself and stay safe and DRY.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-24-2003
Sat, 09-04-2004 - 12:52pm

Hey, I've been reading all the discussion here. Ibeen very busy this week and a little behind, so I'm jumping in kind of late.



iVillage Member
Registered: 06-04-2003
Sat, 09-04-2004 - 9:12pm
I couldn't agree more. My new team members discuss ideas with me and I really like them. Take care and stop working so much. By the way, how are you??


iVillage Member
Registered: 01-06-2000
Sat, 09-04-2004 - 10:35pm
I think I am mixed on this one.

Our planning time is never enough to do a good job on everything we are supposed to do.

Sure, some outside work comes as a part of the profession. But, when the expectations come to the point that the only people who can do the job well are those who are willing to put all personal lives on hold - I think there is something wrong. And if the teacher's can lessen their load with creative scheduling without harming their students, I say "Go for it".

I teach music. Most of the time, that is a planning responsibility K-6 or K-5, depending on how your buildings are set up. However, one year, my school divided two buildings different. One teacher taught K-3 in both buildings, the other teacher taught 4-6 in both buildings. I was the 4-6 teacher, and I can honestly say that this particular year was my best as a teacher. I was able to focus my planning on fewer lessons and that ability to focus allowed for me to spend more time on each one. It definitely was a plus. Also, I was far less stressed, which left me with more mental energy to devote to the kids and their needs, instead of stressing over the paper work/planning aspects of the job.

When things are easier for the teachers, that does not automatically mean they are bad for the kids. Now that said, I would not want to see 1st graders running around to 4 teachers. But doing some reasonable grouping and switching by about 3rd grade - - I just don't see where that would be such a terrible thing and harm the kids in any way.

I am guessing you are a young, childless teacher. I could be wrong, and if so, I apologize. I used to think like you did. That teachers who went home when the bell rang were "lazy". But now, I am the mother to children, as well as the teacher of children.

I believe a HUGE part of the problem with our kids today is the fact that parents are too wrapped up in themselves and their careers or other interests that they don't bother to spend the time with their kids.

So - here I am, a teacher. I am working in a school that says -- oh, wouldn't it be great if we all stayed after school every day and offered all these enrichment clubs to our children, and wouldn't that make us better, caring teachers to volunteer to do this.

But the truth is, if I jump on that, *I* am the parent putting career ahead of getting home on time to help my own child with her homework, to take her to her enrichment activities, and the like. I then become as a much a part of the problem as the solution. And I refuse to go down that path.

I really worry about attitudes that assume anyone with a life outside of their classroom must be lazy or doing a poor job. I do my job, and well beyond the minimum. But I can also tell you that my school district would ask for more and more and more, as much as we might be willing to give.

So to me, if a group of teachers can work out a workable plan to lessen work load without shortchanging the kids - good for them. They are likely more balanced human beings, and will still BE in the classroom 10-15 years from now, instead of quitting in the first few years like so many of our teachers.

It's not lazy to draw appropriate limits and look at yourself as a whole person.

In the end, that benefits our students as much as ourselves.


Edited 9/5/2004 8:08 am ET ET by merimom96

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-04-2003
Sun, 09-05-2004 - 1:13pm
You have GROSSLY misunderstood me. I am not THAT young. I am 33 and although I have no children, teaching often encompasses many parts of my life as well. I SAID I DON'T MIND TEAM TEACHING IF ALL INTENTIONS ARE HONORABLE. HOWEVER, THE PEOPLE I AM SPEAKING OF CLEARLY STATED AND I QUOTE. "I HATE TEACHING SCIENCE AND SOCIAL STUDIES." They were quite glad to abdicate their responsibilty. THAT IS LAZY. POINT BLANK. Now...

You made some wonderful points and as a middle school teacher, I can see where it works for you. You have decreased volume which allows you to be more thorough with the classes that you teach and gives you more time to plan and even more time at home. I am all for shortening our workload. That is fine. Oh and p.s, you teach one subject. However....

I say this with love, I really do, but if one more married teacher says to me:"It's easy for you cause you don't have kids." I am going to SCREAM. I know you apologized in your post, but man I can't stand hearing that. Yes, you have it much harder than me, but that doesn't mean my life is a walk in the park. This has nothing to do with me having "MORE TIME." Anywhoo...

I am for "cooperative" teaching. Making sure we are teaching the same concepts and following the curriculum. If everyone wants to get together and divide the workload, I am so FOR THAT. But, when it is stated by several teachers, "I hate teaching that or I don't like teaching that" then I say why are you an elementary teacher. That is the core of what we do. Teach middle school or high school if you only want to teach things that YOU LIKE. So....

I was merely asking which teacher are you?? New school who can conform to the new ideas and team teach effectively or old school who wants to be with her students at all time and challenge herself to improve her knowledge base. Also....

These teachers that I speak of don't have the right attitudes about teaching in the first place and that bothers me. On the one hand they SEEM quite dedicated. On the other, they don't hold their students to high enough expectations. And....

They have convinced their "new" team member to split the work load, so when all the test scores come, even though it is their class they can say, well, "Ms. A taught social studies so that's not my fault." But it will be won't it?? Team teach all you want, you are still held completely responsible for YOUR class, regardless of who you sent them to for Reading. Finally.....

I am painfully aware of how hard our jobs are. We are stretched to the limit and poorly compensated for all that we do. Married or single, we are teachers and that is a very noble thing to be. Our students deserve the best. Nothing less. If I was required to team teach, I would happily make the adjustment. Thanks and take care of you.


iVillage Member
Registered: 01-06-2000
Sun, 09-05-2004 - 3:31pm
I was not trying to be insulting to you, and it appears I was.

For that I do apologize. I never meant to imply your life is easier. Everyone has their challenges, and we really don't know what they are. I meant, that 10 years ago I would have posted very similarly to you, and that I have found my priorities to have shifted quite considerably in those ten years and in my early 40's. I firmly believe that shift has been for the best, and I don't believe my students are suffering for it. I was not saying that I was wrong then, or you now. It's not that I am no longer a dedicated teacher, or that I don't give my best efforts and try to do my very best job. It's just that career is now holding quite a different place on my priority list than it used to.

Sure, our students deserve our best efforts during our working hours. They even deserve that we are sometimes willing to devote non-working hours to do our best job. But, when the expectation is that we work our full school day, all evening and most the weekend to keep up with the "basic" expectations of the job (and maybe it's not like that where you are, but it is fast becoming that for elementary teachers where I work) that is not right or fair. If some people are willing to work that kind of schedule as the basic expectation, I suppose that is noble of them. But it does not make peeople who are more balanced and wanting to make their work life just one part of their life bad teachers or lazy.

However, I still think your characterization of other teachers as lazy, simply because they have a different set of preferences than you is unfair. Honestly, most social studies and science is SORELY neglected in most elementary school classrooms. Partly because the testing happens only in math and reading; partly because a lot of teachers are more invested in math and reading. If there is a person who is really INTO social studies or science - I would be THRILLED to have my child taught by that teacher for those subjects. How ideal. In fact, my sister's kids go to a school where the science is taught by a "special teacher" in science, just as they would go to visit an art specialist or music specialist. It works out really well.

I am wondering if your view extends to phys ed, library, music, art (or whatever areas it is more traditional to you to have someone else cover that for your class) - - do you feel it would be better for you to do that for yourself as well? To me, the concept is not all that different. When I talk to more veteran teachers than myself, they often refer to the days when they taught all their own music, art and phys ed. Now - we have specialists take care of that. Do you think you would be a better, more responsible teacher if you took over for all of that as well? Were teachers 'lazy' when they agreed to giving up those responsibilities?

I am not trying to fight with you, I really am not.

And if you prefer to keep all subjects and enjoy teaching them great.

But I really do think you need to think about your attitude to those who might want to do it another way. To me saying, I don't really prefer to teach science or social studies, and if I can find someone who does get excited about those subjects so much the better -- to me, that is not lazy or dishonorable. I am sure they could do it, of course they could learn the material. But having someone who is actually EXCITED about that material is even better. They are not abdicating responsibility. They are making sure it is taught, just not in the same way you might prefer to do it.

And yes, btw, I know I teach one subject (and it is elementary, btw, I now teach K-5, and do have an ElEd certificate in addition to a music one). Believe me, I know every job has its pros and cons. One subject to 450 kids, in two different buildings, travelling every day between buildings on a cart, with frequent public performances, a teaching schedule that switches groups of kids every 30 minutes, and is basically 100% teacher directed time, no time where kids are working independently. That does not make my job easier or harder than yours or anyone elses, just different sets of challenges.

I know you took offense at some of what I said - but I never said you were wrong.

I simply pointed out another way of looking at things, a way that took me some time and my specific set of life circumstances to come to that point of view. It was certainly not meant to blast, belittle or humiliate you for having a different set of life circumstances or to say your life is easier.

But - when you are using words such as - LAZY, ABDICATING RESPONSIBILITY, DISHONORABLE, lacking in standards, not belonging in the profession or at the elementary level, not having the "right" attitudes - - you've really got to expect someone to take a bit of exception to your words.

As to - "if one more married teacher says to me: "It's easy for you cause you don't have kids." I am going to SCREAM." If you have heard this a lot before today, it may be that you are coming across in real life in the same way with those same judgmental words, and not just letting loose on a anonymous message board. That would be a shame, because while I am sure that you are a great teacher who does care a lot about her kids, there is always something to be gained from a little bit of respect for our colleagues as well.

Edited 9/5/2004 3:34 pm ET ET by merimom96