Education

Restructuring

May 01, 1992 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Restructuring is, arguably, the most overused word in the lexicon of school reform. It is an umbrella for so many ideas, concepts, and practices that teachers can be forgiven if they are uncertain and confused about what it means. Indeed, in its most comprehensive sense, restructuring is almost a synonym for school reform, meaning to change substantially the ways schools are organized and operated. Under that definition, most of the specific reform efforts described below, from Theodore Sizer’s Coalition of Essential Schools to James Comer’s School Development Program, are restructuring projects.

Some schools have tinkered a bit with their curriculum or their schedule and declared themselves to be restructured. But the essentials of genuine school restructuring are:

  • Changes in traditional roles and relationships. Teachers participate in decisionmaking, especially in areas involving curriculum, instruction, scheduling, and professional matters. Principals are less authority figures than instructional leaders who share power with their colleagues. Students are viewed not as passive recipients of instruction but as workers or consumers. Parents are invited to share in the decisionmaking and to participate in the academic and social life of the school.
  • Changes in curriculum and pedagogy. A careful assessment of what is taught and how it is taught should lead to significant changes in the organization of the school day and school year, how teachers and students spend their time, and the nature and frequency of student assessment. Ungraded primary schools, for example, keep children together with the same team of teachers for the first three or four years and allow them to move forward in the curriculum at their own pace. In the upper grades, subjects like writing or mathematics may be taught across the curriculum. Interdisciplinary courses taught by teams of teachers may meet for longer periods to allow more concentrated time on task. Changes in curriculum and the use of new educational technologies often prompt changes in instructional practice, encouraging teachers to function more like coaches and guides than dispensers of knowledge. Students assume more responsibility for their own education and teach each other.
  • Changes in the workplace. Different roles and relationships and altered curricula and pedagogies lead naturally to restructuring of the working/learning environment. Teachers need time for planning, reflection, and communication with colleagues; continuous professional development becomes essential; adequate physical space and support services are given high priority. The school is viewed as a learning community in which both students and teachers are nurtured.

Such restructured schools are radically different than the factory-model schools that have symbolized American education for most of this century. The changes are so sweeping that they cannot be undertaken without the blessing of state and district authorities and substantial deregulation of individual schools. At first, a number of states and local districts attempted--mostly unsuccessfully--to mandate school restructuring from the top. In recent years, states and districts have instead sought to encourage restructuring by creating procedures and incentives for schools to begin the process on their own.

A version of this article appeared in the May 01, 1992 edition of Teacher Magazine as Restructuring

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: April 17, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: March 20, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: March 13, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: February 21, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read