Joe Hendren

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Friday, December 03, 2004

Two teachers per classroom?

I was talking to two teachers tonight (ok one was my mum) and the idea of having two teachers in every classroom came up.

The more I started thinking about it the more I became convinced that this is a good idea. Many teachers, especially those working in low decile schools, often report their job has been reduced to behaviour modification, day in day out. While they are dealing with the 'challenging' kids they no longer have time to teach the children in the way they want to teach.

How could this work? Imagine that teacher one is in the middle of a lesson. If Kid A (with apologies to Radiohead) causes a disruption teacher two could go over and quietly talk to Kid A, or remove him/her from the class, while teacher one continued. If the goal of the disruption was attention seeking then Kid A has already lost.

There is also a case that two teachers in each classroom would be better for the students. Different students may respond better to each teacher, just as teachers could develop specialities in their areas of strength. I suspect we all had at least one teacher with authoritarian instincts, who used the fact they were the only adult in the room to be a bit of a bully. With another adult in the room this would be less likely to happen. Each teacher could provide relief for the other, allowing an increase in non-contact time, meaning that teachers with a full time class would be less likely to have to stay until 6-7pm most nights doing paperwork.

The only catch is that this would be a expensive policy. As of April 2004 there were 23,973 primary school teachers (excluding principals) in New Zealand on an average salary of $53,579, meaning it would be an additional $1284 million to have two teachers per class. To do the same for secondary (18878 at $57,121) would cost an additional $1078m. This assumes that the two teachers would have the same qualifications and experience and this is probably not necessary.

Perhaps a more realistic option would be to have three teachers assigned to two classes which would be half a much, at $642m and $539m respectively. It would probably have most benefit in primary schools, as primary classrooms are largely based around one teacher and because as I understand it secondary teachers currently get more non-contact time.


(Figures from Teacher Payroll Warehouse and Parliamentary Questions 5527 5528)



At 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree

At 7:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work in a secondary school, and I'm in a co-teaching environment 6 of 8 periods of the day. I'm certified in Language Arts, Social Studies and Special Education.

In the classes I co teach in, 3 English Classes, and 3 Social Studies Classes, the students, even though they are the lower students are outperforming the students that are in traditional classrooms with only one teacher. These are the kids who aren't supposed to do better than their peers, but they are.

With two teachers in the classroom, there aren't as many discipline problems, in fact, we rarely have discipline problems in those classes. Just as you said, with two teachers, a student who raises his or her hand for help gets it almost immediately, and it's less work on both teachers. I think it's a win win situation, especially for Students who have special needs or at risk.

At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also agree, when you mention the "3 teachers to 2 classes ratio", it makes a lot of sense because some students will need the additional help and some students can go without the extra teacher.


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