In which kind of school – elementary, middle/junior high, or high school – do teachers have the most autonomy? The least autonomy? What implications does this have for you as a prospective teacher?
It seems to me that elementary school teachers have the most autonomy. Alone in the classroom, the playground and the lunchroom with their students day after day they are both isolated and autonomous. This suits me fine. When I worked in the corporate world I thrived in branch offices, far from authority, even far from my boss. Typically, I reported to somebody a 12 hour plane flight away and that was about the right distance. I knew that help was available and I was generally wise enough to seek it when necessary but day to day I was quite comfortable setting my own strategy. I can already see that my relationship to the core curriculum will be creative and somewhat unorthodox. But at the same time, I am extremely familiar with the concept that unorthodox only survives if it produces extraordinary orthodox results and remains in full communication.
I also am very excited by the prospect of spending a full school year with the same group of students, getting to know them in detail and helping each one proceed to the full measure of their ability. It seems to me that the relative independence, authority and autonomy of elementary school teachers supports that intention as well.