Monday, October 10, 2011

Education: Effective Systems Matter

By now, you've probably surmised that I'm an idealist--no idea too big to tackle, no vision too broad to journey.  Yet, that certainly gets in the way of balance, and without balance one simply becomes exhausted and no good for anyone or anything.

Thank goodness for a long weekend to recoup, and tomorrow I'll be back on the teacher treadmill with thoughts of balance on my mind.

If one wants to help teachers achieve this, I suggest the following changes to educational systems:
  • Create regular opportunities for teacher voice when it comes to decisions that impact the work they do.
  • Establish idea systems and communication systems so teachers aren't doubling up on efforts that have already been established or are currently in the planning/creation stage.
  • Ensure that every teacher has planning/response time each day as well as a break after a two-three hours of teaching large numbers of children.
  • Lessen or eliminate cafeteria, playground and other duties so teachers have time to reflect and transition between lessons and classes.
  • Carefully review roles and decisions to make sure that some professionals are not doing the lion's share of direct service, while others have most of the decision making, planning time.
  • Give teachers time to attend professional workshops and conferences.
  • Help teachers out with the logistics such as field trip planning, money collection, payment forms and supply acquisition--efforts that usually take lengthy amounts of waiting and procedural time that could be spent on student work and efforts.
It's not a perfect world in education or any other field, but shoring up systems that support teachers who in turn support students will help to create better balance and enhanced effect.

What would you add to this list?  How do the systems work in your organization?  What can we do to make the work of educators manageable, inspired, balanced and innovative to best support students?

Effective systems eliminate drudgery, repetition and wasteful spending while effecting greater time for reflection, tasks and work that matter.