Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - August 19, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta
1C THE H65ALO Thursday, August 19, 1971------- City teachers fhave never been better' Contrary to the effects of "tight money" often found in some school districts, particularly those in the U.S.. Lethbridge schools are still seeking and employing only the best-available teachers. And, says Dr. Gerry Probe, di- rector of personnel and material resources for the public school dis- trict, teachers "have never been better." favor the employment of teachers with full degrees, and we've been finding them Lo be bet- ter-qualified than they've ever been he said. For example, the public school district's new teaching staff this year will include six teachers with almost four years' training, 17 with a full four training, six with five years and three with six years. The average teacher in the sys- tem has at least a bachelor of edu- cation degree (four years) and five or six more years of teaching ex- perience, with many specializations among them. A fear often expressed by both parents and educational critics is that school districts tend to hire "cheap" teachers those with educational success of your schools." Within the limits of available funds and substitute teachers, both the public and separate school boards encourage their teachers to only two or a bare throe years of training in order to save money for other educational endeavors. Not so, at least in Lethbridge, says Dr. Probe. ''Once you start avoiding employ- ing teachers because they have too much education for you to afford them, you're on the downhill run it's a real shame when that sort of thing happens and it harms the Indians attend city schools There are more than 80 Blood and Peigan Indian students attend- ing classes in Lethhridge separate schools this year. Most of the elementary grade students are bused to the schools each day, while most of the high school students live in the city, go- ing home weekends. A tuition fee is paid by the fed- eral department of Indian affairs for each Indian child educated in city schools. The students may attend almost any school of their choice in south- ern Alberta. DR. GERRY I'ROBE attend and workshops. In most cases the teacher is ex- pected to bear part of the cost, but in some instances, especially when the board requires: some spe- cial training of a teacher, all ex- penses are paid. In addition, a few teachers each year are given year-Ion? leaves of absence for furthering their educa- tions, always with the guarantee of a job at the same level when they return. "The quality of the education the teachers are receiving today is constantly Dr. Probe said. "The universities are pretty concerned about the product they produce and arc making certain they Find the best ways to train potential teachers." lie said there is "some room for improvement" in some aspects of teacher training yet, particularly on leaching teachers how to teach, as well as what to teach. "I'm sure the universities are aware of the difficulties, though, and 1 expect they'll be filling in the problem areas as quickly as pos- sible." The University of Lethbridge is "doing a particularly fine job in this area because of the excellent co-operation between both city school districts and the univer- Dr. Probe said. He said it used to be considered that teaching methods courses were simple, "Mickey Mouse" types of subjects, easily passed. And they weren't treated very se- riously by students. "Today the methods classes are concentrated on much more heavily, and they're certainly not Mickey Mouse." A Icss-casily understood or solved problem, however, is that of ac- tually assessing the education stu- dent's ability to teach. "The best-educated scholars don't necessarily make the best or even the good teachers, and yet the poorer education student, who has some problems in learning his ma- terial may make the most excel- lent of Dr. Probe said. "Perhaps those in the first cate- gory don't really understand other people having any difficulties be- cause they've never experienced any themselves. And perhaps the second group teaches well because the people have been there in difficulty themselves." The U of L is offering an op- tional class in analysis of teaching skills, which assesses levels of questioning by the teacher, or by the classroom student; level of an- swering; types of answers the teacher gets from students; and some idea of how to figure out and examine the thought processes the students go through to get to the answers they offer. "This sort of course gives the teacher a better idea of what hap- pens in the classroom, and some tools with which to assess his or her own effectiveness in front of the Dr. Probe said. "I think it's an excellent class, but I regret that it's just optional it should be required of all stu- dent teachers." Dr. Probe said he was "enthu- siastic about education in Leth- bridge" after his first year as di- rector of personnel and material resources, and said he foresees a continued striving for educational excellence in all city schools in the future Westminster teachers develop new language arts program Lethbridge teachers work closely in many school projects, and per- haps the most exciting one now under way is the Westminster Ele- mentary School language arts cur- riculum project. In January, 1970 the school's staff began studying ways of de- signing a new language arts curri- culum which would better meet the needs of their students. Language arts the collective term for reading, spelling, speak- ing and all related educational studies has long been a problem in schools, since students learn at so many different rates. Although the original focus was primarily on reading skills, basic to the entire spectrum of a stu- dent's future education, the pro- gram has been expanded to en- compass all the major skill areas of language arts. Not only has the program con- tent of language arts undergone a thorough analysis and reorganiza- tion, but the traditional methods of staff deployment and school or- ganization have also been subject- ed to searching scrutiny. The project, which was initiated from within the Westminster staff, has taken a full year of teacher effort to reach the implementation stage. In spite of the demands made by a heavy schedule of meetings out- side of school hours, staff mem- bers report personal benefits from discussions of educational objec- tives, and from group planning. Present plans call for what amounts to doing away with the traditional grade structure in lan- guage arts. In the first week of school, stu- dents in Grades 4 to 6 that is offered at Westminster will be prc-tested to determine their levels of language skill develop- ment. Based on the "learning profile" thus developed, each child will be placed in one of five learning groups. Each group will be taught by a team of three teachers, who will co-operate in a "team" approach to provide both group and indivi- dual instruction to their students. During the instructional sessions students will strive for mastery of the objectives of the language arts program. Attempts will be made to select materials and teaching methods so as to complement the strengths and weaknesses of the individual stu- dent, keeping him challenged, in- terested and learning. Student progress will be mea- sured in terms of the successful achievement of program objectives and will be reported as a learning profile rather than in terms of grades or percentages. This will amount to a written re- port, rather than a simple "A" or "B" or "F" scaling. It is expected that the reorganiza- tion of language arts at Westmin- ster will be followed by similar changes in other subject areas in the years to come. The Lethbridge public school board is considering a plan for a long-range development of West- minster School as a pilot school for a "continuous progress" system of student education which does away with grades in all subjects taught. In the meantime, the Westmin- ster staff has proven that city- teachers are eager to engage in lo- cal development of curriculum.