The School: Part 6 Influences

December 2, 2007 at 5:47 am 2 comments


Today’s schools are influenced by so many factors that is very easy to overlook many. For the sake of understanding, influences are factors that affect learning. Part of the reason for successful school is controlling as many influences as possible and aware of the ones that cannot be controlled. Schools that are aware of students loss of interest in reading with an increase of interest in technology offers the school an opportunity to attempt to control this influence. Strategies can be developed to redirect pupil interest in reading and provide technology as a means to an end rather than the end itself. This is a situation in which controlling requires educators to operate as a team. Administrators assist in the “control program” by providing the time for teachers to work as a team. The school board get involved by allocating funds for such a program. The community aids in such programs by supplying the tax dollars needed to implement them. This is an example of an influence that schools can try to control. Weather cannot be controlled but being aware of the threats of severe weather can lead to safety strategies. In this Blog the different influences will try to be categorized.

First, there are internal influences and external influences. Internal are factors that influence learning are issues that result from what happens inside the school. As a result, it is the area that can be best controlled. A list of these factors follow:

Physical Appearance
Cleanliness, Paint on Walls, Lighting, Windows, Condition of bathroom, Smells, Noise level Decorations, Awards displayed, Motivational banners, Size of classrooms, Number of desks in each room, Hall traffic ?????

Classroom Activity
Number of students, Student appearance, Student/Teacher interaction, Classroom appearance, Activity Materials ?????

Human Factors
Age of Teachers, Appearance of staff, Verbal and nonverbal communication, Attitude, Interaction of staff ?????

Curricular Structure
What’s taught, How its taught, How it coordinates, How is assessed,
Relevancy ?????

Can you add to the list?????

Secondly, there are external influences. These are the events that occur outside the school building. The list is monumental. Just to name a few:
The School Code (Statues that govern schools), Support of the community (in tax dollars and respect), gang activity (both in and out of the school), home life, parental expectation and support, diet, genetics, health, self esteem or lack of, life goals, etc. This list runs on and on.

As an example, politicians often react to schools when things catch their attention. Political attention is usually accomplished by media pressure or horrendous tragic events. Recent school shootings lead to increases in school security issues including the installation of metal detectors in schools. Like tornado or fire alarms, schools had to develop “intruder alert” plans. Fears of excessive drug use has lead to random drug searches and random drug testing of students. Concerns of poor kids not getting breakfast or lunch has resulted in food programs. Fear of STD (sexual transmitted diseases) has led to including sex education in health or science class. (Some schools have even supplied students with condoms to exercise safe sexual contact. US students testing poorly on TIMSS. Given at the 4th, 8th and 12th grade levels, the US not only did poorly but actually seemed to loss ground. Science and Math scores showed the US on the bottom. This is one of the factors that lead to NCLB. There is a constant finger pointing toward schools, teachers and students. This has the greatest negative impact on education today as money is diverted from improving learning to creating great test takers. Tax dollars are in greater demand to meet the expectations of the external forces to improve certain aspects of the internal environment. The constant harangue directed toward the school systems make taxpayers less like to pass needed referendum to raise money to maintain schools at just status quo levels.

More of each of these topics will be discussed in future Blogs.


Entry filed under: school.

The School: Part 5 Human Makeup So You Want To Be a Teacher

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Linda  |  December 3, 2007 at 8:41 am

    Hi Teach 😉

    I just found your blog and really like how you summarize the many influences on schools in two categories — external and internal.

    I just read a powerful book I want to share with you — The Sex Ed Chronicles by Stuart Nachbar. It’s a novel inspired by real life events in NJ, when in 1980 the state Board of Ed made sex ed mandatory in public schoools. The story is told through the eyes of a rookie reporter who is assigned to cover this event. This is a novel that shows how internal and external forces are at work every day in public schools. I hope you like it.

    As a parent, I think that anyone concerned about our children’s education (not only sex ed) in the schools should read this book. It also made educational politics an interesting read for me — not something I thought would ever happen for me.

    And just fyi in response to your “About” post — I was able to find and thank my Kindergarten teacher through I wish I could find all of my teachers and thank them personally — I was very blessed throughout K-12 with excellent teachers in Malverne, NY where I grew up. I also am making each of my children thank their K-12 teachers before they head off to college. Teachers touch lives in so many ways. This society has everything backwards with athletes getting paid exorbitant salaries and teachers not making nearly enough, when they are the ones who truly count!

    OK, I’ll get off my soap box now!


  • 2. fm44  |  December 4, 2007 at 6:28 am

    Thanks for the “Teach” salutation. There is no greater boost than a “thank you” from pupil or parent. Sad to say there are too few “thank you’s” from the administration in schools. Everyone deserves a “thank you” regardless of their job. Thank you for the kindness and the book recommendation and, most of all, the “soap box” pep talk!

    I have been laid up for the past year and miss my planning, execution and challenges that the school and classroom offer. Of course, I have to admit there is so meting to be said for sleeping later and not coming home feeling frustrated and angry and knowing I have too much to do before “Round 2.” There isn’t even a pretty girl to sashay around the ring. There is a real dichotomy of feelings. I am spending some time planning for next year in the hopes that I will be ready to return to the battle against ignorance.

    Thank you!


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