The Hawkins Model© is constructed on several variables that are essential to a quality education. The most essential is the quality of teacher and student relationships. My education model is constructed to facilitate the forging of such relationships and sustaining them for longer than a single school year.
Another essential variable is giving kids time to learn. Our education model changes time from a constant to a variable resource available to teachers and students in whatever quantity their success requires.
The third variable is that learning is the only thing that counts. To ensure a child learns we must get them off to a good start, which means taking the time to assess what children know when they arrive for their first day of kindergarten and what they have not yet learned. From what we learn from such assessments we will tailor an academic plan to each child’s unique needs. This determines the starting point for each student’s academic journey.
We choose to accept nothing less than a student’s best. This necessitates ending the practice of stopping a lesson; administering a test; recording whatever grade we assign based upon the number of mistakes each child makes; and then sending our students on to a next lesson, ready or not. For many kids, as a pattern of not being ready develops, it sentences them to a future in which they must deal with the challenges of life in a world they cannot fully understand.
My education model does not utilize tests to determine a grade but rather to confirm whether or not the student has mastered a given lesson or needs more help. We will modify the instruction process so that if the outcome of a test is unacceptable, we go back and reteach the lesson, giving the student the time, practice, help, and affirmation they need to learn from their mistakes. When we deem them ready, we administer a “do-over” exam and when a student achieves success we record that achievement and send the child onto the next lesson, not with a C, D, or F, but rather with an A or B and armed with the prerequisite knowledge and skills future lessons and life will require.
If the child still struggles their teachers’ job is unfinished. Consider that we do not stop teaching kids to ride a bicycle until they ride off down the street.
We interpret success as demonstrating proficiency. We celebrate each student’s academic success because it will help instill the powerful motivation that success can provide and with the development of healthy self-esteems.
We need to disregard the expectations in the academic standards that all students have two semesters to demonstrate readiness for first grade and, instead, establish the expectation that we have twelve semesters to prepare them for middle school. All students do not begin at the same starting line. What matters is that they get to the finish line. Once a student learns, how long it took them is no longer relevant.
As students gain confidence in their ability to learn, we anticipate an acceleration of their pace in learning. We need not worry they will fall hopelessly behind, which is the case with the existing process. Students fall behind only when the education process does not permit them to finish.
Once we document a student’s success it becomes part of their record until we make a point to verify their mastery on that lesson, which we will make part of the instruction process. Once verified, state testing becomes irrelevant and an unjustifiable use of time.
We accomplish all this by changing the classroom structure from one in which there is one teachers for 25 to 35 students, to a structure in which we have a team of three teachers for no more than 45 students.
Having a team of three teachers allows them to support one another, collaborate, and to manage a classroom with students progressing at different speeds. This also enhances the ability of teachers to forge relationships of the quality we seek.
The model keeps that classroom of teachers and 45 or fewer students together through the full primary phase of their education, which we define as what we formerly viewed as kindergarten through fifth grade. This eliminates the need to sever teacher/student relationships at the end of every school year and then require them to start over with a new teacher in the fall.
Nothing less than success is acceptable because a child’s success in learning is more important than any arbitrary schedule. We believe this process can substantially improve the probability that every child will experience success in pursuit of whatever goals they set for themselves. Helping a student develop a pattern of success changes everything and sets them on a path to agency.
With respect to implementation, if a school has three kindergarten classrooms, each with one teacher and 30 students, which requires a total of three teachers, we will need to add three additional teachers to staff two classrooms with teams of three teachers and forty-five or fewer students.
If we assume that the average teacher salary is $65,000, three teachers will require an investment of $195,000 to serve the needs of 90 students at a single grade level. This gives us a per student cost of $2,166. Consider Indiana, as an example. In 2025 they expect to spend over $6,300 per student on vouchers to enable 95,000 students to attend charter schools or faith-based schools. We believe the probability of student’s success, having learned in the innovative learning environment we are proposing to be significantly greater than sending students to charter schools that, currently, are not performing as well as the community public schools they were created to replace.
Our students, teachers and their communities are winners. The funds invested to add teachers goes right back into the local economy to improve our intellectual infrastructure. As they go about their lives, teachers contribute to the local, state and federal tax bases. Who knows where the money invested in vouchers will end up?
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