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Harmar teachers thinking outside of the box

Shrinking budgets, shrinking class sizes and constant changes in the educational needs of students mean teachers have to be flexible and creative in providing the best classroom experience for our children.

Harmar Elementary School’s co-teaching and open classroom approach is a fantastic example of success in that endeavor.

Two teachers handling 46 third graders in what, since the holiday break, is a one large classroom might sound like a recipe for chaos, but according to teachers and students alike, it works wonderfully.

“It’s more conducive to differentiating students by their abilities,” said teacher Alyson Tornes. “Without the wall, we can pull kids aside as we need to for additional help, and it’s also better for arranging small groups.”

Other advantages are the elimination of duplicated resource materials, a bigger classroom community, exposure to a greater variety of teaching styles and a different kind of attention from teachers.

As Harmar principal Cheryl Cook pointed out, team teaching is not a new concept, nor is it being practiced only at Harmar.

“Teachers all over the district are using these strategies,” she said.

Good. It would be easy to cling to “the way things have always been done,” but our local teachers know that’s not what is best for their students, and look for another way.

Kudos to all those willing to do whatever it takes for our kids.

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