This year, the Open Program has been seeing the highest enrollment numbers they’ve ever had, and it’s affecting the individual attention teachers are able to provide to students at South High School.
Josh Fisher, a Social Studies teacher in the Open Program, has reported difficulties with providing individual attention to students. “We’ve got bigger classes, so some of the individual attention we have been able to provide has been stretched a little bit thin, and that brings up challenges.” The Open Program is really focused on student-teacher interaction and communication, so the larger sizes affect classes in the Open Program far more than they would affect classes under a different education philosophy.
The Open Program is getting help from Mr. Jones, an EA (educational assistant) this year, but that’s only one person provided by the school besides the teachers, so the teachers have to be strategic with where he is at different times. “We only have one [educational assistant] for the whole Open 9 team, so we have to be strategic about where he goes and what teachers he’s helping out during specific times,” Fisher said. “We’ve got three classes, sometimes four, going on at the same time.”
Mia Lambert, a freshman in the Open Program, has also felt the effects of these larger classes. “At my old school, our classes were really small, and there I felt we got a lot more individual attention because there was a lot more individual bonding,” she said. Lambert also feels that louder, more hectic classes have also been a bit of a problem due to the lack of individual attention teachers can give. “Sometimes in the larger classes… students make a lot of noise, and sometimes teachers are not able to attend to that because there are so many other kids that need attention, like need help.”
Despite all these new challenges, the overall purpose of the Open Program has stayed the same, which is to provide students with a less rigid learning environment where they can express themselves freely and discuss with their teachers, even when it comes to their own grades. “In the Open Program, it feels a lot more free,” Lambert said.