Paideia is a K-12 college preparatory school of 999 students in the Emory University area of Atlanta; the elementary school enrolls 349 students. The elementary program includes twelve full-day, self-contained classrooms grades K-6. There are two teachers in each class of twenty-six to twenty-eight children. Teachers work together as lead teacher and assistant or as two co-lead teachers. Other than classes with specialists including art, music, physical education, and library, children remain with their own teachers throughout the day.
We believe the constellation of relative strengths and weaknesses among any group of students can differ widely; teachers decide when and how to offer extra help, when and where to augment a task to provide extra challenge, and when and why to take a step back to allow a child to process information. Social development is an integral part of a child’s maturation. Teachers help children learn how to work together cooperatively and effectively.
Through lessons that both engage children and are intellectually challenging, we want children to acquire the basic skills needed for success in school and life: among other things, the ability to read and write skillfully; a facility with numbers, mathematical concepts and real-life problem solving; and a working knowledge about the natural world. Good teaching demands creativity and innovation. While Paideia teachers take pride in the rich academic lessons and units they develop, they also regularly alter these lessons to best suit their students. Such alterations may include incorporating new technologies or checking with colleagues and other professional references for different strategies.
Assistant teachers at Paideia are considered full teachers with classroom teaching and curricular responsibilities. The biggest difference in lead and assistant teachers is the number of years of classroom experience. Assistants participate in parent conferences, curriculum development, student assessment and staffing, professional development, and faculty meetings. It is a wonderful opportunity for a teacher with less experience to collaborate with a master teacher.