I often hear educators say, “I would love teaching if I could actually spend my day teaching.” Teaching often takes second priority to maintaining student behaviors, parent meetings, routine paperwork and grading papers. While these are necessary procedures to encourage a healthy academic environment, they can become overwhelming and squash the thrill of teaching.
When I came to iSchool High at University Park five years ago, first as a parent and now as a pre-calculus and algebra II teacher, I found a school that had revolutionized the teaching and learning process to solve this issue.
The iSchool solution is based on a program where students work independently in different courses throughout each day. A large majority of the students are dual-enrolled in both iSchool High course curriculum and Lone Star College courses. As students encounter challenges in their iSchool subjects or even their college courses, the teachers responsible for those subject areas are available to answer questions and help sort out difficulties. Often a teacher will work one-on-one with a student, but other times a group of students may be struggling with the same problems and small group work with direct teach is needed. In this way, a large percentage of a teacher’s day is spent providing instructional aide to students.
While classroom management is a necessary part of every day, the students at iSchool High at University Park are expected to learn to manage their own time, their own curriculum needs, and their own behavior. As dual-credit students, they have the added responsibility of being a high school student and also a college student. They develop this independence as they work through unit books for each subject area, which they then grade and correct. This environment of self-correction necessitates academic integrity and honesty.
Mastery of a subject is ensured through an online exam that is administered after the completion of each subject unit. The structure of academic course curriculum places the responsibility of learning on the students and allows teachers to spend more quality time assisting in the learning process. Teachers record grades for each unit exam, but very little time is spent grading papers.
iSchool High at University Park is a unique academic environment. Students are challenged to take responsibility for their own education, giving teachers the freedom to educate students academically. Teachers manage classroom behavior and administrative tasks as needed while students work diligently to become independent learners. As a teacher at iSchool High, I actually spend my day teaching.
To find out more information about iSchool High and its unique teaching and learning environment, log on to https://responsiveed.com/ischooluniversitypark/campus-information/.
Julia West has experience in public school education, charter school education, and private tutoring. She homeschooled her three sons until their family discovered iSchool High. The oldest son graduated from iSchool High at University Park and now attends Texas A&M University. The other two are a senior and sophomore, respectively, at iSchool High. Julia has a degree in applied mathematics from Texas A&M and is passionate about teaching mathematical skills and tools for college success to her high school students.
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