Educators at an elementary school in Amsterdam, New York are finding that curriculum flows smoothly when teachers specialize and work in teams.

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At Tecler Elementary School, fifth grade students returned to a familiar environment.  They came back to the same classroom with the same teachers.

The school adopted a new system four years ago for fourth and fifth graders.  Half the teachers specialize in math, and the other half specialize in English language arts. As a result, students don’t spend most of the day with a single teacher.  They shift between the math and English teacher, and when they come back in fifth grade, they have the same teachers for a second year.  They jump right into the curriculum without spending the time getting familiar with new teachers.

“Fourth grade has the usual beginning-of-the-year growing pains, but our fifth-graders have spent a year in that environment; our fifth-graders are able to hit the ground running,” said Dale Comley, an English language arts teacher. “I’m preparing them for fifth-grade better than anyone else, because I’m preparing them to come back to me.”

“You find out the teachers really express their interest for ELA,” said Tecler Principal John Miller, as he observed Comley. “You get what the teachers are — in some cases — most motivated to teach.”

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