Q: How should I set up a self-contained classroom, like in an elementary school? Should I have different classes for each subject, even though they have the same teacher? Should I add specialists like art teachers as co-teachers? Help!
A: There's really no single best way to use PowerSchool Learning in a self-contained classroom - the best way to do this will depend on the needs of your school. However, there are a few strategies schools commonly use to set up this kind of class.
Two Types of Teachers - Homeroom vs. Specialist
The reason self-contained classrooms can be tricky is because this usually means you have two sets of teachers with different needs.
- "Homeroom" teachers teach multiple subjects to one grade level - for example, Ms. Lawrence teaches Grade 4 math, science, English, and social studies.
- "Specialist" teachers teach one subject to multiple grade levels - for instance, Ms. O'Keeffe teaches art to Grades 1-5.
For each of these groups, you have two main options when it comes to creating classes and assigning teachers.
You have two basic approaches to setting up this kind of class: team-taught classes or separate classes.
For team-taught self-contained classes, you could create one class per self-contained classroom, with a Page and a Gradebook for each Subject and with multiple teachers assigned to the Class.
If you choose this option, each class might look something like this.
You'd also want to create a separate Gradebook for each subject, as shown below.
Finally, you'd add both your "homeroom" teacher and your "specialists" to the Roster as teachers. This would give every teacher working with the class his or her own Page and his or her own Gradebook.
However, there are some downsides to taking this route. First, because in this case each subject would be run through the same class, the Portal won't work as intended: it will be impossible to tell which pieces of information belong to which subjects. Instead, it might be better to disable the Portal for users who are in this kind of class.
Second, this approach would require a large number of co-teachers to keep track of a large number of Pages and Gradebooks without stepping on one another's toes. There isn't a way to limit a particular teacher to a particular set of Pages or Gradebooks, so if they're not careful teachers could accidentally edit or delete other co-teachers' data.
Third, this approach is a poor fit for Standards-Based Grading, as you can't have more than one Standards-Based Gradebook per class.
Instead of creating one team-taught class per self-contained classroom, you could also create one class per subject, each with its own subject teacher assigned. (You can make it easier to manage rosters for these classes by using Linked Rosters.)
Basically, this approach treats these classes the same way you'd treat them if they weren't taking place in a self-contained classroom. This solves a lot of the problems caused by the team-taught option.
However, this approach could end up giving your younger students or their parents a lot of different classes to keep track of, whereas some schools like to keep PowerSchool Learning simple for elementary-school users. It would also add some extra navigation for your "homeroom" teachers, who would have to keep track of multiple classes instead of just one.
It would also be possible to separate classes for "specialists," but still have one combined Class per "homeroom" teacher. This would solve some of the collaboration problems with a fully team-taught Class (as you'd have a much smaller number of co-teachers or Gradebooks per class). However, it would still make it difficult to use the Portal effectively.
In the end, the best way to handle self-contained classrooms will depend on how your users want to interact with PowerSchool Learning. If you don't mind disabling the Portal, don't need Standards-Based Grading, and don't mind having a bunch of co-teachers per class, then team-taught classes are probably your best option. But if any of these things isn't true, or if you're confident your users can keep track of multiple classes, then separate classes are probably the easiest choice.
Please note: If your school imports rosters, please see our article specifically on Self-Contained Classroom With Multiple Rosters