Monday, November 12, 2012

Reasonable and Effective?

In the past few weeks, my school life has spilled over into my personal life.  It's true that the role of educator is a role where work and personal become an intricate weave, but when school life spills over into your personal life like a can of hot pink paint, then it's time to reassess.

As I reassess, the words reasonable and effective come to mind.  What is reasonable with regard to an educator's task and work, and what is effective?

As schools move from factory models to learning communities, our roles and responsibilities must shift too. We can't hold on to all of our past duties, and add the new responsibilities too.  Instead, with reasonable and effective in mind, we have to shift the way we do things.

Hence, I looked carefully at my tasks and schedule today and made the following changes.
  • Rather than edit a zillion papers at home to pass back to children, I planned for in-class, one-to-one conference and editing time.  That's both a reasonable and effective decision.  As all teachers know, the one-to-one conversation that goes along with coaching is an effective teaching strategy.
  • I lengthened my blocks of time devoted to essential units of study, and minimized the number of areas I focus on each day. That will provide teachers and students in my class with more time to focus on one topic with a less rushed, more focused pace.  That will also reduce my weekly planning with regard to individual lessons and skills.
Hopefully those two changes will make a difference so that the hot pink paint spill of school life will become a golden thread of professional work woven into my personal life instead.

I'm also wondering if we've reached the time in elementary school life where teachers do have to choose a couple of content areas to focus on rather than trying to teach it all. I'm wondering if my team should begin to move towards a couple of teachers focused on STEM, and the others focused on humanities and writing while leaving reading and social competency to small groups of students matched with mentoring classroom teachers, special educators, intervention teachers and therapists.  That's a topic for another post, but one worth considering at this time of deep understanding and knowledge related to every topic we teach.