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Teaching in alternative schools: Issues for teachers

20 January 1995


This study was conducted in the fall of 1994. I observed three alternative high school programs in the Pacific Northwest over the course of four months. I interviewed . several teachers, teachers' aides and administrators. I, wanted to look at the "neo" alternative programs that have recently come into our educational system. I was especially interested in the ways that teachers in alternative programs go about teaching "at-risk" youth because this population is often times hostile toward the I1mainstreaml1 system, and towards education as a whole. My research questions dealt with how teachers, in alternative education, reach and maintain interest long enough to get these kids to graduation day. I found that these teachers use a variety of teaching strategies, play a myriad of roles in these students lives, and bring their personal past experiences to their jobs. In addition, students that are in the category of "at-risk" usually do not have . strong ties with positive adult role models. But because of the structural differences built into these schools, teachers have the opportunity to get closer to their students, and really become involved in their students lives.


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