Imagine this scenario: you are a developmental education administrator. You have three leveled reading classes: advanced, intermediate, and developing. Similarly, you have three instructors in your program that you need to assign to these sections. One teacher is very strong, one is average, and one is weak. You’re tasked with assigning one teacher to each class. You’re not allowed to change personnel or move students to different levels. Who do you assign to each class?
We posed this question to many of our colleagues, both administrators and instructors, and received a wide range of responses. Some respondents assigned the strong teacher with the low group of students. Their rationale was that a strong teacher is needed to meet the distinct needs of this particular population. Conversely, some took the opposite stance, pairing the strong teacher with the advanced group of students. Their rationale was that these students have the least amount of deficits, and a strong teacher will be able to take them the furthest. They also reasoned that the strong teacher may get burned out teaching the developing group of students due to the slower pacing, less sophisticated content, and higher attrition rates. Additional responses focused on pairing the strong teacher with the intermediate group, as this group has significant room to grow but has fewer deficits than the developing group. The highest group already are pretty independent, while the lowest group may be hindered due to developing skills, so the pairing the strong teacher with the middle group gives them the best opportunity to progress.
One of the biggest areas of contention was where to place the weakest instructor. One argument advocated for placing the weak instructor with the advanced group of students, as this group is already self-sufficient. These students may be more likely to be successful working independently without a lot of need for instructor support. However, some respondents noted that this is not an optimal pairing, because the advanced group of students may perceive the weakness of the instructor, which may result in discipline problems, disengagement, or ridicule of the teacher. A second suggestion was placing the weakest instructor with the developing group of students; these respondents considered the statistical likelihood of success in the classroom and opted to place the best resources with the students most likely to succeed.
Interestingly, some respondents assigned the weakest instructor to the middle group, stating that both the advanced and developing students had unique needs that could be addressed by higher skilled teachers. Therefore, they assigned the weakest teacher to the intermediate students essentially by default.
Clearly, this is a contrived scenario; in an ideal situation, all of the instructors would be strong. However, this is an interesting question to pose to both instructors and administers alike. Where would you place each teacher? Please share your response on this Google Form: