Friday, March 10, 2006

Students Hiring Their Teachers

Our transatlantic cousins in Britain are doing something radical. At one secondary school, they're letting the students have a say in hiring the teachers who instruct them:
Pupils at a school in east London are so involved in the running of their school, that they interview all prospective teachers - even the head.

Student panels were introduced at George Mitchell School in Leyton two and a half years ago in an attempt to give pupils "ownership" of their learning.

Now up to 20 of the secondary school's 45 teachers have been "grilled" by pupils before getting their jobs.

And it doesn't stop there.

The 70 pupils involved in the "Making Learning Better" (MLB) scheme regularly observe teachers' lessons and make suggestions about how classroom displays, teaching styles and discipline can be improved.

"We know how we want to be taught as pupils," says Casey, 12, a "lead consultant", or senior pupil adviser, for art.

"Teachers are only teaching, we're the ones being taught. Lessons have to be fun and every person has to learn something - the lesson has to have a purpose to it."

The MLB consultants at the school are clearly proud of their role and do not feel they are regarded by other pupils as "spods" or "swats"."

They've seen how things have improved and so they probably respect us," says English consultant Enkeleda, 15, who joined the school after coming to England from Kosovo.
The whole thing makes for an interesting read.

According to the head teacher, many of her staff were at first skeptical, referring to the program as "wacky" or "American." Surprisingly, the school itself serves mainly economically disadvantaged students, with some 69% speaking a language other than English in the home.

I actually find the idea of having some sort of student input in the hiring of teachers at the high school level to be somewhat intriguing. But how on earth could that be productively operationalized?
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