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A Manhattan Middle School: 7th, 8th and 9th Grades

Most schools in Manhattan (New York), whether Elementary, Middle or High School, are four to five story Brownstown buildings with only a few that have an outdoor play or recreation area maybe the size of a basketball court.

School Safety is a big issue in Manhattan. One entrance into the school, and if there is no “airport� type security, then a police officer is the first person to greet you. Four officers on duty throughout the day with CCTV monitoring of the corridors. Classrooms are locked by teachers after the class has entered and a small window (about 10x10cm) allows a view to anyone who may want to enter the classroom. Each classroom has a telephone to contact officers on duty should an emergency arise.

There were two different Middle Schools that occupied the one building, each being an independent entity. The Middle School that I was involved with occupied the first two floors and part of the third floor. The other Middle School occupied the rest of the third floor and the fourth floor.

The School Cafeteria: • A room in the basement that holds around 150 students. • Tables and benches bolted to the floor. • Three police officers and six teaching staff on duty. • Students expected to remain seated for the duration of the lunch period (42 min). • Some students get lunch from the food service (this day six chicken nuggets and a bowl of mayo). • Other students bring their own food. • Many do not eat at all.

The School day: • Eight 42 minute periods. • Start at 8:00 am. • No morning recess break. • Period 5, Grade 6 and 9 in the cafeteria for lunch, then back to class period 6. • Period 6, Grade 8 in the cafeteria for lunch, then back to class . • Period 7, (around 2pm) grades from other Middle School for lunch. • Period 8, remaining grade of other Middle School for lunch. • No “play time” or outside activity during the day. • No set “lunch time” for staff and lunch for staff often consumed in classroom while teaching.

An interesting thing is that New York Schools have eight periods of Maths and English each week of 42 minutes duration per period, three double and two single lessons. That is 336 minutes or 5.6 hours. How does this compare to the Victorian Education System? Many Victorian Secondary Schools spend approximately four fifty minute periods. That is 200 minutes or 3.3 hours on mathematics education. COAG recommends six hours per week.

School Population: The school has a large Hispanic population of 91%. 51% of students are English Language Learners (ELLs) whose families are recent immigrants to the USA, mainly from the Dominican Republic. Both Monolingual (English) and Bilingual (Spanish) classes in each Year level. Many students are on Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for emotional, learning or behavioural problems.

All staff are Spanish speakers.

A Manhattan Middle School  

This PowerPoint highlights some of the organisational differences between a New York and an Australian School.

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