Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Student Coaching Update: Realistic Responsibilities?

I've been faithful to reviewing student work and folders each day since the beginning of the school year.  The information I gather is important, however the time challenge remains as this adds a couple of extra hours of work each day on top of the typical planning, response to memos, teacher meetings, professional development and the actual teaching which takes up the largest part of the day.

I do believe that schools have to move to a different schedule and system of teaching students.  It seems like the larger share of feedback, time-on-task and organizational duties related to the large numbers of students falls on the classroom teachers' responsibilities' lists.

For example, next month we'll spend five weeks fitting in parent conferences.  It takes about one hour per conference when you add the time to schedule, prep, and the meeting itself.  That's 25 hours of work on top of the typical routine.  We have about ten hours put aside for those conferences. For the most part, only classroom teachers and special educators have parent conference responsibility--many others have that time to plan, meet as teams and do the prep work that classroom teachers will have to squeeze in during the early mornings, late evenings and weekends throughout this five-week period.

I always say, "When you play the compare game, no one wins," and try to stay away from comparing roles and responsibilities. However, I do continue to believe though that we will serve children better if we carefully look at the roles and responsibilities in schools.  In some cases, classroom teachers have too many leaders and too little help when it comes to the most important tasks related to student learning.

One way to start this change would be to assign most professionals in the building to a "home room" or advisory group giving those professionals the organizational, response and conference responsibilities for a group of students.  This would break down classrooms as we known them and create smaller groups w/"parent like" leaders.  Not only would a change to this model provide greater response to students, but it would also create a stronger professional team in a school since everyone would have similar time-on-task with direct service and responsibility for student conferences, feedback and care.

I like to work hard and do a good job, but it's also important that the expectations are doable and realistic. As Hattie's book, Making Learning Visible for Teachers, emphasizes, the teacher's role is very important and when we give all educators in a building equitable, realistic responsibilities, we will see student achievement blossom. However when roles are unrealistic and responsibilities not targeted well, student learning suffers.

As educators we will always continue to evolve towards better practice and schedules for student response, and it is essential that we look carefully at the energy and skill available, and employ that energy and skill with care and focus so that student learning takes center stage.