Things you should know about Schools and Teachers

  • 17 Feb 2014

Before you get started there are a few basic principles and facts of life about schools and teachers with which you should be familiar. The following observations might not be universally true, but our experience indicates that they are broadly applicable.

Schools aren't autonomous. They have requirements imposed on them by various oversight goups. Typically the state mandates certain competencies for students at each grade level and in each subject atea. Frequently the local school board imposes additional requirements, The principal and teachers don't always agree with all of these, but they cannot ignore them and  At the end of the year they have to give an account for each student in each subject area. Sometimes they become so narrowly focused on these that they end up "teaching for the test."

Their preoccupation with these competencies might make them initially skeptical of your involvement, particularly if it will occupy some class time, because they feel that they cant afford to spend time with things that are not directly tied to the requirements. lt is fruitless for you to fight against this. Instead, find out what these competencies are, and tailor your activities to help meet them. This will go a long way toward winning teachers support for your efforts.
ln addition to these goveming bodies, school employees often feel that hundreds of parents and special interest groups also presume to be their bosses. They can be faced with a wide range of competing demands, expectations, and objections from people and groups who are each convinced that their own point of view is correct.
Sometimes they feel "damned if they do and damned if they don't" You still have a difficult time building relationships if you become viewed as part of this problem. Don't be dogmatic!

Schools have very limited funding for purchasing supplies and equipment. But they know a lot about how to stretch a buck and scrounge for things. One of their initial request will likely be for help in obtaining equipment and supplies, lf your company is willing to donate or lend new or used materials this can be a boon for the school.
But don't settle for making this your only involvement. We've found some of the most popular items to be simple things such as paper and copier use, educational kits that teachers need to do particular experiments or demonstrations, and small computers that are outdated for scientific purposes. Generally, schools aren't interested in specialized equipment or things that need extensive repair.