Trending Topics Linky {Departmentalization}

Hi everyone!  I am going to *TRY* to start a weekly linky party.  I am always interested in learning new things, hearing about how things are going in other places outside of my school, and getting other perspectives.  This linky party will have a different trending topic each week, always in relation to education.  My hope is that you all you will link up to share your thoughts, views, and experiences.  

This week's topic is...

I received an email yesterday from someone who wanted to know more about how departmentalization in my school, as well as the pros and cons.  So, I decided that this would be a great topic since I have heard both good and bad views on this.

I teach 2nd grade in Texas.  This is our second year being departmentalized.  I teach ELAR (reading, writing, spelling, language) and my partner teaches math, science, and social studies.  I spend the first 2.5 hours with my homeroom class in the morning, we go to lunch/recess, and then we switch.  In the afternoon, I get my partners class and we also have specials.  At the end of the day, the kids quickly switch back just to get their things.  Our students have binders and pencil boxes that they carry back and forth from each class. Homework, behavior cards, and all that are kept in the binders. All books, workbooks, notebooks, etc. stay in their desks in whichever classroom they are used.  My homeroom gets the left side and my partner's class gets the right side.

Here are my thoughts on how it's going, again, just my perspective.  I'm sure others feel differently.

Pros:
  • Less planning in general.  You can focus just on the topics that you teach and can devote more time.
  • Less teachers when planning since you only need to plan with the teachers that teach the same subjects as you. (Really only an issue if you have a huge school.  I guess it could be a con in a small school...you could be the only one teaching your subject.)
  • You can get really comfortable with the subjects you are teaching because you have more practice and experience.  
  • You are also able to focus more on data collection, etc. for your given subject area.  There is more direction.
  • Your room can be set up to focus solely on the subjects that you are teaching (word walls, stations, etc.).
  • Less materials are needed (district wise).  We had 10 2nd grade teachers a few years back.  Now we have 15.  We no longer have enough materials (teacher's guides, nasals, etc. for each of our teachers/students.  I have 25 reading books in my room and both my classes share them.  Only half of the teachers need the materials for each subject area.

Cons:
  • The grass is always greener on the other side, but I feel like the ELAR teacher takes the burden as far as grading writing, planning for guided reading groups for 2 classes, etc.  We also have to do more assessments, like DRA2, but don't get additional time or help doing so.
  • We each have 2.5 hours.  My partner teaches math and alternates between science and social studies.  I think the division of time is not right.  We have very low readers and writers and they need more!  If I were self contained, I would devote more time to reading and writing.
  • I teach in an area where the parents are not very involved.  It is hard to build relationships with so many parents.  Many parents are also confused as to who teaches what and what concerns to bring to which teacher.
  • Hard to connect curriculum across subject areas.  7 of us teach ELAR, 7 of us do math/sci/ss...we meet separately and have no time with everyone together.
  • Students lose their things going from class to class.  Time is wasted packing up and switching.
  • I do not feel like I know my students as readers and writers as well as I should or used to when I was self-contained.  I don't think the math/sci/ss teachers emphasize reading and writing as much as they should since it is not their main focus.
  • If you and your partner are not on the same page, classroom management and setting expectations and routines can be challenging.
  • We have a lot of struggling students and must offer tutorials because we have no intervention time scheduled into our day nor do we have interventionists.  If there are a handful of students struggling in each class, the tutorial group is all of a sudden ten students, which is just too much.  In addition the same students that need reading tutorials, need math tutorials.  So teachers have to alternate days and the students just aren't able to get as much extra support.
  • You lose familiarity with the subject(s) you are not teaching.
So...I'm sort of not for it after trying it.  But it could also just be the way it is done in my school.  2nd grade is also earlier than when this is usually done.  I'd loved to hear your thoughts or experiences!

In order to get this linky off to a good start, I am giving away $25 to my TpT store.  Follow my blog to enter.  Afterwords, you can enter again by leaving a comment with a future topic suggestion and/or linking up to this post about departmentalization.
Please feel free to link up at any time throughout the week or link up to a previous post on the topic for others to browse.  

12 comments

  1. Love this idea of a linky with trending topics! I've never been departmentalized, but have wondered if I'd like it. The school I taught at only had 2 teachers per grade level so each would teach 2 subjects. I'm not sure if I'd like it or not.

    As far as another trending topic...my first thought was Common Core, but I think we may all be "Common Core-d" out! Haha! Sorry, I'm not much help.

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  2. I would love to see a discussion on whether or not there should be recess scheduled in schools. I teach 4th grade in an intermediate school (grades 3-5) and we do not have daily scheduled recess. However, I wish that we did.

    Jennifer
    Elementary School Garden

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  3. I was thinking Daily 5 and close reading. Two big topics that many teachers have not heard off or are not comfortable with. I can personally say D5 has changed my life, but the close reading part...clueless!
    I would love to try anything that provides me with less planning time (D5 has- no more centers for this girl), and more time to perfect an area of teaching.

    Tania
    My Second Sense

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  4. The idea of "departmentalizing" is a terrifying one to me. After reading your blog post, I am at a loss for words. Personally, I think that it is a terrible idea. I, too, teach Grade 2 and think that they are too young to handle all of those transitions. Plus, it must be so much harder to bond with the students and enforce classroom expectations and rules with two teachers. And I totally agree...you definitely have the lion's share of the workload...

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  5. Several years ago, my teaching partner and I decided to departmentalize in kindergarten. Just like you there were things I liked about it and things I didn't like. We did it in kind of a weird way. I taught reading and social studies and she taught math and science. We each kept our own kids on Modays and Wednesday and then on Tuesday and Thursday they went to the other class for the day. We found that with kindergarten the transition of moving from class to class was very disruptive. It seemed to take them forever to get settled after moving, that's why we went with whole days. On Fridays we kept our own kids so we could do assessments. Since we were the only two teachers and it was kdg, we always planned together and tried to integrate our social studies/science lessons into the reading and math.

    I would love to read more tips to help struggling readers.

    Kelly
    I'm Not Your Grandpa, I'm Your Teacher

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  6. I teach middle school, so obviously my experience is different, but I've worked in both settings. As you said, there are pros and cons of both. I think the management piece is HUGE in departmentalized schools because of what you said above. It's SO important, especially with those little guys, to be on the same page as far as routines and expectations because they need consistency.

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  7. I think integrating technology is an important trending issue. :)

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  8. Co-teaching! That's one of my passions, and I really enjoy the opportunities I have to teach and learn with other teachers.

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  9. I am like you there are pros and cons to both. Last year I was the LA/SS teacher and it was great, except like you said the LA teacher kind of gets the short end of the stick with ALL the testing and cramming reading, writing, and language into the time frame. This year I am self contained (both years 2nd grade) and I LOVE it. I have twice as much planning to do but I still love it. I have the GT kiddos and I love flip flopping our day around or incorporating other subjects into others.

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  10. Thank you for sharing your great with us. It is so kind of you.

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  11. I would like to see focus on Common Core and its effectiveness thus far.

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  12. I would like to see a post about reteaching/intervention without any extra support. (Back story, I teach at a private school. We had a "schedule guru" come in and tell us to include that in our new and improved schedule...only, we don't have the personnel to make the class size any smaller. We have no teachers' aides, no support staff, no nothing...)

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