Everybody's mountain; The team teaching experiment of Harvard University and Lexington, Massachusetts
Everybody's mountain a program in the recorded series written and produced by Robert Louis Shea on with the author as narrator. I was a citizen taxpayer on a mission behind the blackboard curtain of contemporary American education. I traveled throughout the United States for six months. I saw schools universities and educational experiments from Boston to Chicago from San Francisco to Miami. I began my journey in the valleys of generalization obstruction and controversy in education. I ended it on mountaintops of educational leadership and imagination. This broadcast is a report on one of those mountaintops the team teaching experiment at Harvard University and Lexington Massachusetts. A graduate school of education prepares young men and women for careers of leadership in the schools. Since the end of World War Two Harvard education faculty like those of other American universities hasn't had much
success competing with the faculties of law or medicine and engineering for the ablest and most promising of male college graduates. Francis Keppel is dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dean coupled as the salary schedule for teachers in our public schools favor men or women. Let me ask you for a minute to imagine yourself as a man from Mars or the moon which is now more fashionable. Who comes to look at the salary structure in the United States. You get the impression that this salary schedule must have been designed by a single woman in that the salary goes up by regular annual increases for about 15 years and then tends to level off at that point and go up only in case of inflation by just this point in her life. I think her own responsibilities which have probably included the education of younger members of the family are taken care of are. Elderly parents the chances are that those responsibilities tend to reduce after the age of 35 whereas in the case of most men I think it's fair to say that their
financial responsibilities go up after the age of 35 essentially what do graduate schools of education offer to career minded teachers today. This is what I have to say and I'm a recruiter that's one of the things the deans of schools of education do I suppose. I find myself saying to an able and vigorous young man at 21 look come into the teaching business is just wonderful. You start teaching at the age of 21 with a class of 25 or 30 and when you retire at the age of sixty six forty five years later you're doing exactly the same thing it's one of the most exciting professions you've ever heard of. Actually of course I've exaggerated because many of the men in her administration and principals principals superintendents and the like and there is in fact sense upward mobility. But unfortunately it means that there isn't much within the actual direct relationship with the students. Hasn't there also been a drain off of women from the profession. That's right. In the last 10 years. The marriage age of young women has gone down from something like 23 to something like 21 and please don't hold me to the figures but
it's a two year reduction. This means that if they enter teaching and marry and the children come as they do even earlier than they did 10 years ago the length of time that the young women spend actually teaching in the classroom is relatively less than it was 10 or 20 years ago. This means obviously that more replacements are needed. There was a period there are 950 when there were predictions that the public schools would need one hundred fifty thousand new teachers a year. And how many graduates come out of the colleges annually at that time it was somewhere around three hundred twenty five thousand if my memory is right. This meant obviously that somewhere between a third and a half of all the college graduates of every kind of college would be needed for the schools assuming that you got all your teachers from that source. Well with the competition from all the other walks of life this was a ridiculous situation there was no likelihood of meeting the teacher needs from this source only some educators have suggested that the way to meet the teacher shortage is to double all teacher salaries.
What do you think of that. Well of course as an educator I am in favor of doubling all salaries any way that seems a sensible procedure. But if you ask me as a politician My answer is I don't think you can get away with it. The effect of doubling the salaries at the present time would be to double the salaries of both those who spend only a few years in the schools and those who are making a career argument. Now the purpose of course of doubling salaries is to keep first rate people in the profession and that's obviously sensible. But if you have as high a percentage of relatively young women entering the profession as we do and you double their salaries The net result is for them to go out and buy prettier dresses and get married faster. If the educators propose doubling salaries I think they have to show a very much higher rate of are attention of career people in the profession then the public may be prepared to double the top salaries. What is the solution then to getting a proper share of the best minds in each generation particularly among men into career teaching.
The most direct solution would appear to be. An effort to see whether within the present scheme of public education a career line can be worked out which moves from induction into teaching to some experience as a teacher and then to increased responsibility in most areas of a complex society like ours where you have professional or semiprofessional work the span of direct control of direct relationship between the leader and those who are associated with them is rarely more than let's say half a dozen people in direct in daily touch with the leader or the captain or whatever name you give to him. Right now in the public schools each teacher is very much on his own whether he started teaching this year or has been teaching 30 years. What's the reason for the development of this autonomous pattern of teaching in American education. One thought that is entertain me from time to time is that it's the accidental result of architecture that is that we started with one room schools where there was room only for
30 or 40 children and one teacher didn't make any sense to have more than that. And that when we combined these one room schools into larger operating units the net result was to put these one room schools one right next to the other and put a roof over put a hallway along the side of it and some heating facilities and the like and think that you would change the school whereas actually perhaps all that you've done. As I indicated put a whole bunch of one room schools right next to each other. In 1957 Harvard and the nearby town of Lexington Massachusetts underwritten by the fund for the Advancement of education entered into a collaborative experiment. The community and the university reshaped the entire operation of the Franklin Elementary School around the notion of team teaching. Eighteen teachers are involved. Divided into three groups or teams Miss Charlotte leavens is one of the teachers. Charlotte one of these teams called for the first team is called Al fund is made up of four first grade teachers and their rooms. The second
team is called beta and is made up of three second grade classrooms and teachers plus three third grade classrooms and teachers. Then the larger team as called Omega and is made up of fourth fifth and sixth grades. Each team has a hierarchy beginning with the clerical aides and part time teaching assistants. Above them are the teachers. The next step a senior teacher and ultimately the team leader. The classes may cut across grade levels. They range from large groups of 150 to small groups of 24 for different subjects. The children are redeployed during the school day. They move like high school students from homeroom to subject rooms and among different teachers. At the end of the day each team of teachers meets as a group. They plan the next day's last names and the required class groupings. They pool ideas and observations. They look for more efficient and interesting ways of presenting
lessons. Charlotte leavens is the senior teacher in the BETA team. She has been teaching elementary grades for nine years in New England. She has a Master's Degree in Education from Harvard and she spent a year abroad teaching American children in Germany. Charlotte how does the team teaching situation differ from your teaching experience in the past. Now ordinarily under the traditional kind of a set up you're only involvements would be for your 24 or 30 children. You would not confer particularly with other teachers No I can't particularly what they were doing in their own classrooms. The major concern would be with yourself with your own group. What's wrong with this pattern. Well I think it's a stagnating type of pattern. You have no stimulation from others. There are no inlets for new ideas. Occasionally a supervisor whom you admire or respect gives you some hints about what you might do or have done. But in many cases a teacher is at least as advanced or perhaps more advanced than the people who come to supervisor
at any given time. Nearly half of the children in the United States are being taught by inexperienced and largely unsupervised teachers. A study of recently appointed teachers shows that over 80 percent had been visited less than once a month even though they were inexperienced. Charlotte what do you think of the present arrangement. Frankly I think the president Reagan is just delightful and most stimulated by you have constantly to evaluate what you're doing. You constantly invite this evaluation from others whom you respect and admire. You have possibilities for experimenting or trying new things with the children. Nancy Samuels nine and a half and Stephen Bale 10 are two of the school's four hundred fifty children. They are in the Omega group which combines a fourth fifth and sixth grades numbering two hundred forty boys and girls. Nancy you and Steve have had experience with a regular system of teaching as well as with the teaching situation here at Franklin. How did you like being in one room with one
teacher all day. Well it get quite boring and oh you were quite restless. If the teacher wasn't specializing you don't have to listen to and if you were real high and she was teaching something that you had already known him for a couple of years you'd be very very bored. How about you Stephen. I agree with Nancy. It's extremely plain and boring to have only one teacher. Well suppose that one teacher is very interesting. Well if the one teacher is interesting then I like it but I one teacher can't be interested in everything. What do you feel about going to school in this kind of a school when there's a team of teachers Nancy. I think it's very nice because you get to know more people Steven or a sixth grader. Do you mind being in the same group with fourth and fifth graders. I don't as long as I talk to are Level 1 between fourth and sixth grader are higher. Nancy what do the other kids think about this team teaching situation.
I heard one boy say and I guess some of the boys are that way. They don't like it because they just plain don't like school. But the majority of people like it. Stephen what's better about this way of going to school than the old way. Take reading. Usually we would just sit in a circle and read from a book. But now we have things such as debate discussions and work on being a better reader speaker. Would you like to go back the other way of teaching the one teacher in one classroom. No I absolutely would. How about you Nancy would you like to go back to the old way. You know in direct touch with the experiment our three Harvard Representatives. Robert H Anderson is the chairman of the Committee on teaching teams operation and evaluation. He was an upper elementary grade teacher in Wisconsin a principal in River Forest Illinois and a superintendent of schools in Park Forest Illinois. Two qualities pops in American education.
How did you feel about the team taking experiment Bob when you were first invited to participate in the project. I was very excited because I saw in the team arrangement an answer to many problems and it bothered me ever since I entered the profession. The rules of the game requiring every teacher to close the door and operate an autonomous. And therefore you one got very little help from other teachers and one had almost no opportunity to see how other teachers were teaching. I think it's difficult for the administrators are to provide adequate help to teachers when they must deal with them one at a time and further I think that some teachers are so much more skillful than others. It's a pity that their example isn't witnessed and followed by a greater number of colleagues. You anticipated them some difficulty in shaking the teachers out of the traditional role of autonomy. Yes in fact we call this the possessive pronoun problem and the teachers in the Franklin School voice that. I think first and most prominently among their own
fears. They thought that they were going to lose something when they wouldn't have their own children to handle all day long and couldn't close the door behind them. What about the possible losses to the child in breaking up the traditional one to one people teacher ratio. It's commonly assumed in the profession that a child's security is directly supported by a self-contained classroom idea and having only one teacher. And so we set up many ways of researching this part of the project and to our amazement and surprise the children seem to become even more secure when they have a number of adults and other children with whom to associate. This was one of the unexpected bonuses of the project to date. Hope Danielson associate project coordinator is another Harvard representative. Hope you have been in rural elementary schools teaching three grades in one room. You've also worked in the Middle East as an educational consultant. Would you say that the teachers here have lost the feeling of individuality in the team operation.
They are still struggling in their attempt to find role definition in a new structure where they have team leaders senior teachers over them in the structure the sense of democracy. I do believe it's very deeply embedded in them. And this is one of the reasons that we're having difficulty. Putting the program into practice. What difficulties are you having primarily with role definition. The team leader accepting. The role of a democratic leader but a democratic leader with the power and ability to make decisions to speed up operations in order for the team to function efficiently. The team leader must be willing to lead. I think the Franklin School Leadership people on the whole are finding this a very difficult part of the project. Being a good leader is not the same as being a good teacher. And in the beginning we had few guidelines to go by and therefore the people who were thought to be good teachers were
assigned to the leadership roles in the future we hope that we'll be able to select people for leadership spots on the basis of carefully defined criteria just as being a good teacher doesn't guarantee that you'll be a good principal. That's Hagstrom The third Harvard representative is project coordinator. A former junior and senior high school teacher. He was also aware of the difficulties inherent in getting the kings and queens of sovereign classrooms to rearrange themselves psychologically as citizens of a teaching republic in which they play different roles. LS How about the teachers on the lower rung of the hierarchies. Have they been reluctant to follow the leaders. This varies from team to team. I think in general teachers are willing to follow when they see the direction in which they're asked to go where they see evidence of. Positive leadership and a direction pointed out in which they might utilize their talents and do some planning. They are very willing and very eager to try new ideas and to work together in a cooperative basis.
You interviewed every teacher in the project up at the end of the first year. How do they feel about their team teaching experience. Without exception the teachers felt this had been of their already valuable experience for them. They felt that planning together working with. The Harvard staff. The opportunity to observe other teachers in action had caused them to grow in measurably more than they had ever conceived that they could grow during one school year. Assuming that eventually the questions of morale if efficiency and results can be answered affirmatively. Well reshuffled school system based on teams of teachers successfully tempt new entrants into the profession of teaching. Elizabeth Olmstead is a member of the BETA team working with third graders. She has a bachelor of arts from Smith College and is fairly new in the profession. Your first teaching assignment was here in Lexington Elizabeth. You know traditional school. How did you feel about your experiences in the beginning of the year I was very excited of
course by the new situation it was my first time I had my own classroom and my own children. Gradually it's a year when I found that a lot of this became too routine almost and I found I was doing some things automatically perhaps I wasn't even putting into my teaching as much as I could I would prepare lessons but somehow I couldn't always put everything I had into them. And now how do you feel about your experiences here. I've really enjoyed it. It's been a very stimulating and I've been able to express my own ideas really coming forth with some things that perhaps had been there before but I hadn't had a chance to express or to share my feelings about your plan to marry raise a family and then perhaps come back to teaching. Would you consider returning if you had to teach at the conditional autonomous part. I probably would be hesitant if I went back to public school teaching after being exposed to the kind of stimulation and sharing of ideas that there have been here. I think I eventually would become bored with it. I would lose my interest. Mary Kelley is a fourth grade teacher. She has also seen her teacher on the arm a good team. Let's turn now to an excerpt from a planning session in
which Mary Kelley makes a proposal to her colleagues for a series of lessons on controversial issues. I realize that something is being done at the present time but this is being done only with a gifted group. Now it would seem reasonable that everyone should be exposed to this. Mary what do you mean by controversial issues at the present time. The labor problem and there's a great deal of information on it and it's one that won't lapse because everyone is interested in it. Do you think that the fourth graders will be able to understand this also even fifth graders I think this might be a very difficult concept for them. There are of course some more simple perhaps controversial issues not necessarily political that they may have had previously. NEARY did you mean to do this in the big group with our fourth fifth and sixth graders in there at once or did you mean to break it down grade wise it would be a good idea to take it with combinations of large groups and small groups because naturally you would want to conduct a discussion with 200 children.
It might be better broken down according to ability you may have a group of fourth fifth and sixth graders working together but on varying levels. Are you going to present both sides of the issue. The thing is to bring up both sides I believe you Mary. Yes I feel that this is important that we have to get these children to realize that there's not always one answer to a problem that there's always the affirmative a negative side to look at and just because maybe the influence at home is negative. They should also know the positive side of it. Could we start off with an issue that would be pertinent to the school and then build it up to something that might be more international baseball my reason for having chosen the labor issue is that we are making some association to be voting in a campaign that's going on to elect a student council and at the same time in the country is the political campaign going on and we are making you so Station here so why not carry this a little further and make it meaningful. Bring in a little bit of our social studies. Particularly I think it
is fifth grade who works on government. Why couldn't it be an election with a big group to start out. And then we could probably plan something for the smaller groups and gifted children could. Lecture to the children hassling with the help of teachers are part of the curriculum as the United States government I think this would fit in very well. Why teach the parents to not teach the present subjectively being careful and within the confines of your test situation. When some of the things you have already found out it's valuable to arrange the daily affairs in the school so that the teachers are in close touch with each other the joint planning can be worked out. The observation of each other's teaching can take place as a routine matter rather than as a frightening Inquisition. Second I think we have some preliminary evidence that this team teaching provides a better induction for a new teacher into the career of teaching a better way to break into a better way to break and I'm sorry I used an expensive word. We don't have however evidence
that this necessarily means that the children learn more English reading writing arithmetic and the like. It's not that we have evidence that it teaches them less. It's just that we don't have evidence on the matter that's at all satisfactory and we're going out after it. What about the grouping situation in terms of the traditional 30 to 1 ratio. Apparently it's possible to group children even in elementary schools in groups near 100 or thereabouts without tearing the top off the building that was one question that was in most of our minds where you could put that many children of that age in one room without running the risk of explosion. Apparently that can be done but town of Lexington is also eager to know the answers that will come out of the Franklin school project. This is Mildred Merrick is the elected chairman of Lexington school committee. What reactions have you had Mrs. Myrick from the parents of the children involved in the experiment. We've been very surprised that so far we have had only favorable comments. Parents have called us to tell us of their interest in their work and their
approval. What about the parents of the children in the other schools are they interested in the project. I'm sure they are. We have parents from the other elementary school saying when are we going to do some of the things that you're doing it frankly at our school of fish get Adams at Parker Monroe and Hancock. What will happen in Lexington when the experiment is concluded. As we said there will be a careful evaluation of the results by the group at Harvard by our own teachers by the administrative staff. If. We feel that certain procedures have been particularly successful. We think that those will then be instituted in the other schools but this will mean higher rather than lower costs of education. It will mean a higher budget per year but if we have better education it may be more economical. I do not mean that people in Lexington are elated over a higher tax bill but I think they're willing to pay higher taxes if it's necessary in
order to have better education. Think Kapell What would you say to the communities across the nation which would be interested in what you are doing here at Lexington. Well it's a kind of an old fashioned way of saying it but I think I'd say keep your shirt on. The evidence isn't in. The situation is one that gives me cause for optimism but it will be a terrible mistake to go rushing about setting up a team teaching operations until this is been thoroughly tested. But if it does pay out you think you have something very radical here. I hope so if the word radical is still respectable in American life. I mean it is going to the roots of all that's much better. Yes. If the experiment is successful what do you think its impact will be on the country. To answer that one I think I have to give away my prejudices about how change takes place in American education anyway. We're not in the same situation that many countries in other nations are where a minister of education announces what's going to happen and then proceeds to happen in the United States what usually happens is that if a new idea is well tested carefully observed and
demonstrated first in one place then in half a dozen then in 15 or 20. The idea then spreads across the country through the existing professional channels. It doesn't come by anybody usually orders but it comes and it comes amazingly fast. If a first rate demonstration has been made assuming that such a demonstration will be made what will it do to the salary schedules of the teachers. Let's suppose that you have at the top of the Teacher Salary Range in a community six to seven thousand dollars a year. It would seem to me reasonable to hope that if this scheme worked. You would have a situation where those reaching the most responsible teaching positions would be 10 to 12 thousand dollars. At least I would hope that it would be in that order of magnitude. Those salaries would not be reached by everybody that's obvious. Would this also make you a part time people. Yes and this to me is a very optimistic area right now in the public schools. There really isn't a job of a part time sort it's either a full time job or no job at all.
Now there are a great many women in America whose families cannot permit them to be away from home for more than a couple of hours and yet they are marvelously fitted by prior training and by personality to help in the schools. If you can work out a scheme where it's practical for women of that age whose children are of that age to take part in the schools I think you do two things first you take advantage of a supply of personnel that is on used but second. You make it possible for a woman to think in terms of starting teaching pulling out when the children start coming. Then devoting part time for a number of years and then as their children become independent. Returning full time this to me makes a very sensible pattern for the career of a woman in connection with teaching teen teaching there and they've proved operational. Maybe the answer to the recruitment problem of the high quality teacher I would hope that it would have the effect of showing two young men and women who want to make a career in teaching the possibility of an increase in responsibility salary and heightened interest. Greater responsibility I
think often brings heightened interest. This I hope would have the effect of increasing the percentage of young men and women coming out of college who are among the ablest of the generation coming out choosing teaching as a career. If we did that if we upped that percentage year after year after year it would make a great contribution I'm sure to the schools the principle of leadership and industry in the military and in the civil service has never been unacceptable to the American people. They would hardly be offended it would seem by an extension of that leadership into the profession of teaching. But the public cannot regard this is purely a professional problem. Schools and teachers do not function in a vacuum. They operate a sensitive parts of a total complex social order which has overriding value systems which makes shop status distinctions and which offers variable rewards. If we are to have leadership in teaching we the citizens must be prepared to re-examine our assumptions about the
teacher and how he is to be used in our public schools. We must be willing to cost off outmoded teacher role concepts belonging to the 19th century. And in the end we cannot expect our graduate schools of education to provide us with the leadership only they can provide. Unless we are willing to pay the educational pipe of his higher cost of piping our children up the educational mountain of the twentieth century. The improvement of the position of the teacher in American society is your mountain to. Your children's Mountain your neighbor's mountain. Education is everybody's mountain. The recorded series everybody's mountain was written and produced by Robert Louis Shea on for the Educational Television and Radio Center. The programs are distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. The series consultant was Dr. Ernest on MELBY
- Everybody's mountain
- Producing Organization
- National Association of Educational Broadcasters
- National Educational Television and Radio Center
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- Episode Description
- In the eleventh program in this series, the concept of team teaching is explored.
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- A series on educational leadership and imagination in the United States today.
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Narrator: Shayon, Robert Lewis
Producer: Shayon, Robert Lewis
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Producing Organization: National Educational Television and Radio Center
Writer: Shayon, Robert Lewis
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-49-11 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Everybody's mountain; The team teaching experiment of Harvard University and Lexington, Massachusetts,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 17, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-901zhp4z.
- MLA: “Everybody's mountain; The team teaching experiment of Harvard University and Lexington, Massachusetts.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 17, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-901zhp4z>.
- APA: Everybody's mountain; The team teaching experiment of Harvard University and Lexington, Massachusetts. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-901zhp4z