How much influence does a school principal have over the curriculum? In a New York city elementary school, A principal wanted an open space classroom for each teacher. Thus, she ordered the custodian to remove all teacher's desks so that they would circulate among learners and not sit at their desks. Teachers would then be able to monitor each pupil's achievement and progress in a more efficient way. With moveable tables and chairs for pupils, more flexible grouping can occur. For example, a set of four pupils might be grouped separately, from the others,due to needing more assistance in word recognition skills. Needs of pupils, individually and in groups vary.
To get back to the actions taken by the school principal, the custodian was ordered to place them at the curbside to be picked up as trash to be hauled away. People in the area noticed these piled up desks at the curbside and contacted the school superintendent who, in return had them stored in the basement. The desks were returned to each teacher's classroom a few days later. There were too many protests to keep the desks in the school basement.
When supervising university student teachers in the public schools, I supervised in two newly built schools in the 1970s which had open spaces for each set of pupils in a particular grade level. Thus, one wing of the school building had only fifth graders. These pupils were all in one large room with no dividing walls. Flexible grouping was then used in placing pupils in small groups where they would achieve more optimally. A few years later, each school building had walls installed to separate each classroom of pupils. There are innovations which do not stand the test of time.
— Marlow Ediger, North Newton