Monday, May 21, 2012

Don't Crowd the Schedule: Leave Time for Thoughtful Transitions

A lesson gone wrong prompted me to analyze what happened. I determined that the main issue was the fact that the transition was too quick not leaving students or teachers enough time to transition from one point in the day to the other.

Earlier this year at Educon, Gary Stager prompted us to think about the schedule we create for students as he listed a long list of subjects in 45-minute blocks.  He challenged the typical school schedule and wondered aloud what that does to students' sense of engagement and investment in learning.

Rather than give students time to relax a bit after lunch, we rushed them into an RTI block that represented many groups and endeavors. We didn't leave time to discuss the lunch issues or answer questions related to the upcoming tasks. Some students didn't have the time they needed to gather their materials and transition.  It was too fast and too rushed resulting in a bit of confusion, stress and less than optimal start to the lesson.

It's our first year with RTI and overall the impact has been wonderful as we're meeting more needs with thoughtful, targeted teaching. Next year, however, we have to think carefully about giving transitions the time needed so that all lessons begin with a relaxed start that is understood by all the teachers and students involved.