Dr. Jim Lane presents: "This We Believe, but Now We Must Learn" at Middle school conference

Dr. Jim Lane presents: "This We Believe, but Now We Must Learn" at Middle school conference

 

This We Believe, but Now We Must Learn:

Paradigm Shifts and the Imperative for Teacher Training

 

Middle Level Education Research Roundtable 2018 

 

November 11, 2018

Dr. Jim Lane recently presented a paper in a roundtable discussion at the Association for Middle Level Education 2018 Annual Conference, held October 24 – 27 in Orlando, FL.  Dr. Lane discussed the results of a mixed methods study that described and analyzed the opening and first year of a 550-student middle school in a semi-rural setting in East Central Florida. In planning for the school, district and school administrators designed specific structures and policies to address best practices for middle schools. The resulting constructs to support best practices included a pod classroom design; interdisciplinary teams of teachers who shared the same students; multi-age grouping of seventh and eighth graders; and modified block schedule. Constructs were modeled after characteristics of effective middle schools proposed by the Carnegie Commission (2000) and National Middle School Association (1995).  Underlying theoretical precepts were Challenging and Relevant Curriculum; Varied Teaching and Learning Methodology; Flexible Organization and Support; Shared Vision, High Expectations, Positive Climate; Teachers Who are Expert and Committed; Safety; Family and Community (NMSA (2001).  The mixed methods study captured perceptions of teachers, students, and parents regarding the effectiveness of the design applications to enhance student learning.  Data sources included surveys, written reactions to open-ended questions, and focus group responses.  His paper described the perceptions of the various role groups regarding the effectiveness of the mixed grade classes and modified block design.  The study revealed that all groups disliked mixing seventh and eighth graders together, believing the structure did not meet the students’ social or academic needs.  Perceptions regarding the modified block structure were also predominantly negative. Generally, students enjoyed spending more time in classes they liked and dreaded spending more time in classes they disliked.  At the close of the school year, faculty voted to discontinue both practices.  The finding was that shifts in paradigms require significant training for teachers in strategies to meet the individual needs of their students and to design activities and curricula adaptable to flexible time periods. 

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