Educate the Whole Child by Supporting the Whole Teacher
This article is part of a series of answers to questions submitted to by the Nashua, NH community leading to the up to the November 5, 2019 municipal election.
Teachers spend as much as 30 hours a week with our children, so we all want the best of the best in our schools. Experienced instructors have classroom management skills that can only be learned through practice. Good teachers have the flexibility to implement new curriculum models and the confidence to stand behind the programs that they know are successful. Hiring the most highly qualified teachers to work in the Nashua Public School System should be a top priority. Keeping them here is more than just offering competitive compensation. Teachers in this millennium are looking for work-life balance, they want to feel appreciated and secure in their positions, and they yearn for a personal connection to their school community.
Here are some introductory ways the Nashua School District needs to support the whole teacher:
1. Focus on Human Capital which transforms a classroom from a workspace into a community. We must fairly compensate our paraprofessionals and substitute teachers. Their pay should be commensurate with education and experience. Paraprofessional retention, performance reviews, and compensated continuing education should be an especially high priority in intensive needs situations.
2. Discipline. We must address to gaping holes in our disciplinary action plans in the Nashua Public Schools. Not only are our children unsafe and being distracted by repeated outbursts, but our teachers are dealing with behavior problems that are negatively impacting their work-life and even present situations for bodily injury. We need to be helping children learn coping skills and self-control in early childhood education. We need an enforceable discipline model for middle grades with clear consequences and administration follow-through. We need a way to track the behavior of repeat offenders so that we can evaluate their triggers, facilitate their rehabilitation and search for a modified environment to meet their behavioral and education needs while not disrupting the learning environment of the majority.
3. Facilitate an atmosphere of good communication and respect between teachers and school administration, and cultivate volunteer relationships with the community. I have spent over a decade working for non-profits (including Symphony NH, the Greater Nashua YMCA and the FECCN Board of Trustees). My communication skills would be better compensated in the private market; however, my heart may not be as full - so I have been willing to compromise. Everyone has a rough day at work now and then, but feeling intrinsically valued by your organization will keep you coming back each day.
I am proud to have the support of Nashua area teachers. As a former public school educator in a high needs school, I know what motivates good teachers. They are passionate about their subject matter and they want to share it with the next generation. They want to make connections and see light bulbs going on. We need to tap into that motivation to keep their passion in the Nashua school district.