Last Updated 02 Apr 2020

Teaching in Urban Districts

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The main form of interaction that goes on in schools is between the teachers and the students. Some of the students are difficult or unruly and they present many difficulties for the teachers as the teachers cannot then organize the class and provide the level of quality education that they are capable of. Disruptive students require more attention from teachers and this stops teachers from giving adequate attention to the rest of the class. There are many behavioral problems with students, but there is no method of dealing with such students in United States.

Even the solution that can be achieved through disciplinary action has to be determined by the local school board, and then those decisions will have to be implemented by the teachers and the principal. One of the methods through which this can be done is the student parent handbook which is distributed to the students for giving to parents. This may give details of actions that would be taken by the teachers and the principal of the school, if the student does not live up to the expectations of the school and in the class.

Other schools even give full details of the punishment that the student may be given when there is any infraction by the student of the rules of the school. (Teachers' Relationships) At the same time, all punishments that are given are felt to be the responsibility of the teacher, by the student and the families of the students. This brings us to the next level as we have to determine the type of punishment that can be given to the students. The limits of this range from verbal warnings to in-school suspensions, and when the student crosses limits of behavior, then the general recommendation is an out of school suspension.

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At the same time, some students are repeat offenders, and their punishment increases with the number of times they have caused an offense. The system of punishing students and still retaining them in the same school has now been questioned by some educationists, who have suggested that alternative schools be set up for them. This will permit the ordinary schools on teaching of students who have a lot of desire to learn. Another group has suggested that punishments start earlier, from primary school, and the punishments should be clarified with a clear system.

The problem is that the parents are not aware of all these systems of the school, as they only go through the written material that they receive from schools and even that in a cursory manner. These do not make them respond and thus the parents' point of view remains unknown. The parents meet and talk to the school authorities only during formal occasions like school open houses and teacher conferences, and at these occasions, most participants are reserved. It is possible for both teachers and parents to set up other meetings, but that action is taken only when the concerned student has problems regarding progress.

Even during the process of their training, teachers do not receive much training regarding interaction with parents. As is well known, training for becoming teachers takes place in colleges of education based in universities. The individuals who want to become teachers join up courses for both academic learning as also for courses in education. The combination is expected to teach them both the methods of teaching as also the contents that they desire to teach the students. On joining up for the first time, the students are expected to undergo a period of teaching students.

There are some individuals who feel that a teacher who is still in the learning process should be left alone with students, others take the view that it may be better if they are supported by an experienced teacher during the first few weeks of teaching that they undertake. (Teachers' Relationships) (1) The teacher also faces different challenges and those depend on the environment where they start teaching. Schools in urban areas are not individual schools, but are part of a large bureaucracy that is not able to act fast in response to the needs of the schools.

These schools generally do not have many resources, and even the buildings are in poor condition in many cases. From outside the school, the environment within the school may be affected by gang activity, drug availability and usage on a large scale and there being a lack of community structure. Students who are coming to the school are burdened not only with educational requirements, but also carry the burden of poverty, hunger and poor housing. There is a feeling among the parents, teachers, principals and students that the school they are concerned with is something special and separate.

This can be said to be the tone, climate or ethos of the school, and those seem to be related to all activities that are connected with the school. (NCREL Monograph: Building Collaborative Cultures) This is a unique quality, a special school culture. This has an effect on the way they act, on how they dress, or even what they are continuously talking about or what they will never talk of. It also determines whether they seek help from others or they do not seek help.

This culture of the school is built up of different norms, values, beliefs and assumptions and rituals. These are built up over time as teachers, students, parents and administrators have worked together, or dealt with crises and developed their own unstated expectations for interactions and methods of working together. On the other side there are some schools which remain as isolated places for working and there the teachers are left alone. They work alone in their rooms, and have little interaction with their colleagues.

They keep the problems that they face to themselves. When one sees these schools, the teachers are islands - they feel a gulf of separation from each other, seldom talk to other teachers, or share their points of view in terms of the profession or even solving their problems. (NCREL Monograph: Building Collaborative Cultures) The urban districts have schools which have had a much longer period of development than new schools which have come up in the suburban areas. This makes their cultural situation much more rigid, and any teacher has to adapt to them.

After their graduation from college and getting the necessary qualifications required to become a teacher, most of the teachers still end up working in isolation. The teachers do not get enough time to work along with other teachers, and this is happening even now when there are a lot of efforts being made to get greater involvement of the teachers. There are new efforts to improve the general quality of individuals who join as teachers. The effort is through a compulsory renewal of certificates needed for teaching, creating programs where the teachers will all have mentors and general improvement of their salaries and working conditions.

The process of improvement and this is through decisions taken at the school itself. It becomes the responsibility of the teachers in the schools to have a plan for improvement of the school. That will set up objectives for the school and give the teachers a greater say in the methods of running the school. It is possible to have new methods of instruction like teaching in teams, cooperative learning and individualized instruction through the use of computers. There are also other ways through which the performance of teachers can be evaluated.

The implementation of these methods encourages the teachers to help their students achieve new state level standards that have been set up. (Teachers' Relationships) It is clear that schools where there is not enough satisfaction for the teachers will ultimately result in their leaving the school. It is not correct to say that low incentives are the main reason for their departure. In the city schools the teachers end up getting a salary less than they get in the schools of the suburbs, but that is not the main reason why they leave the school.

There are many teachers who leave the school as they feel that they have not been getting enough support from the school administration. Within the school there are many intrusions during the time given for teaching in the class, there are a lot of problems of discipline of the students, and the teachers do not get a say as to how the school will be run. (Why Do High-Poverty Schools Have Difficulty Staffing Their Classrooms with Qualified Teachers? ) The degree of autonomy that is available to teachers in schools varies to a large extent.

There are schools where the teachers have had the greatest role in development of the curricula and also helped the new teachers understand the curricula. On the other side, there are many schools where the teachers had to work with books that had been purchased and teach from them. There are a lot of differences within the teachers themselves which make the entire process even more difficult. A team of teachers from one district selected new mathematics and science curricula, but other teachers found that this curriculum of science was too difficult for the students.

Teachers in another school were given a time of half a day for setting out the grade level objectives, but the teachers found the time to be too short and this was done only once. The teachers were not able to make plans that satisfied their desires. The involvement and satisfaction is different from school to school. The only matter that teachers seem to agree on is regarding their opinion of conditions which are suitable for teaching. The teachers are in favor of more flexible schedules, increase in resources for teaching and more assistance for teachers.

There was also a difference in accountability and teachers in low income areas are generally ones to face the greatest demand for accountability and the greatest challenges. Certainly the level demanded from them was higher than was demanded from teachers in middle and high income areas. (2) We are facing a failure to ensure that classrooms in the country are filled with quality teachers, and this is more acute as the situation is the worst in disadvantaged schools. In general people say that the lack of teachers is the reason for this shortage.

Why Do High-Poverty Schools Have Difficulty Staffing Their Classrooms with Qualified Teachers? ) The reasons for this shortage are ascribed to recent retirements of a large number of teachers and also due to a large increase in enrolment of students. This makes it even more difficult for schools in poor districts to get an adequate number of trained teachers. These school districts are in the urban areas and as a result of this shortage, these schools end up with a large number of under-qualified teachers.

This lack of sufficient teachers is felt to be the main reason for the lack of proper education and building of careers of the students from these schools, and these students are in general from poor communities. All these factors are known to the authorities and they have tried to respond by the supply of an increase in the number of teachers to these schools. This has resulted in a lot of efforts to recruit new teachers in these schools, during the recent years. The greatest stress is on schools which are in disadvantaged settings.

On further analysis of the data, it is seen that the staffing problems in these schools is not due to a lack of teachers, and what one is trying to say is that they are not suffering from a lack of adequately qualified teachers. The data clearly shows that the problems in staffing of the schools come from a 'revolving door' that exists in these schools. This means that teachers join and then leave these schools within a short period, and the reason for their leaving the school is not retirement.

The data shows that public schools in high poverty area, in urban communities leave about a fifth of their teachers every year! Why Do High-Poverty Schools Have Difficulty Staffing Their Classrooms with Qualified Teachers? ) These results show that the entire staff of the school could be lost within a very short period. The reason for the departure of these teachers is also in part due to the lack of involvement of the parents in the teaching process. Most of the residents in these areas are African American and Latino. The parents from these groups feel that the faculty in the local elementary school is biased against them.

This is the reason that the parents state as being the cause for their non-participation in the school activities. Why Urban Parents Resist Involvement in their Children's Elementary Education) The parents clearly mention that they would work only with teachers who respect and value their children. This causes great difficulty for experienced teachers as they are aware of the value of the participation by parents. Help from the parents was thought to be essential for good education, and this was taken for granted by teachers. Teachers felt parents supported their efforts and expectations for education of children.

Today the situation in the cities has changed due to different family arrangement and socio-cultural differences between the teachers and the students with their families. The differences between them arise as the students and their families suffer from poverty, racism, language and cultural differences. The parents feel that the system has been prepared for the education of children from middle class and white families. This is bound to happen as the family has to feel that they have an important role in the education of their children.

When the parents are from the middle class, then the parents feel that they have a duty in assisting the school for education of their children. On the other hand when the family is from the low income group, then the parents feel that it is the responsibility of the school to educate children. The thoughts of the parents regarding their own responsibility also make the parents visit the school and participate in all activities of the school. Of course to an extent, it also depends on the attitude of the school and some schools make the parents feel comfortable and at home in the school.

Teachers in the urban centers often are not aware of the ethnicities and culture of the students they teach, and they have to learn this to be able to reverse the resistance of the family to involvement with school education. In many cities there have been changes over the years. Many of the cities were dominated by industry earlier, but due to development, the industries are no longer functioning from those cities. With the close of the factories, there were closure of supporting activities like restaurants and department stores. The population of the cities also declined from 100,000 earlier to about 60,000 now.

Why Urban Parents Resist Involvement in their Children's Elementary Education) While the population has dropped, there was a growth in different races in the city - African American and Latinos. The main school is located where the downtown area used to be. Within a range of one block are high rise public housing buildings which are home to four hundred families. Ninety-five percent of the children living there are from the two communities mentioned earlier. This means that the school will have to interact with these communities.

The change in situation had led the city school district to have total integration of its elementary schools. Thus the elementary school serving the public housing building has now got all low-income and colored children. As a solution, the district had to send the children on a bus to the affluent elementary school situated on the hill which has a middle class neighborhood. (Why Urban Parents Resist Involvement in their Children's Elementary Education) The school may have better facilities, but will the parents like it? The number of teachers from the minorities is falling.

In 1974, 12. 5% of all full time teachers were African American, and today the number is down to 11 percent. This makes it possible that some students complete school without coming in touch with a minority community teacher. The minorities certainly have better career choices now, but even in teaching they feel that get low salaries and occupational prestige. (Increasing Minority Participation in the Teaching Profession) Thus teaching as a profession is not being liked. (3) It is clear that teaching in urban areas is not liked as it considered difficult to teach there.

The schools have wide racial diversity among the students, little supply of materials required to teach, high demands from the bureaucrats that have to be met, low involvement of the parents in the school, and finally, low salaries. These are the reasons why suburban schools find it easier to get teachers as they are able to provide more resources, greater flexibility in the areas of teaching, and finally, better pay. (Teachers' Relationships) The solution to the problem is not that city schools recruit more teachers, which they have to do as they do not have enough teachers now.

They have to find ways and means to stop the teachers from leaving the profession. It is very important that the teacher's ability to employ positive behavior intervention and support in the classroom is taken up. When the teacher has defects in terms of skills, the results will appear in the poor results from students who are concerned with the teacher. (Strengthening Emotional Support Services) The schools have to make sure that all students are taught by qualified teachers and this is what makes them worry about retaining the teachers on their roles.

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Teaching in Urban Districts. (2018, Jun 19). Retrieved from

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