Saturday, June 22, 2013

Pacing is Paramount: Too Much of a Good Thing?

In teaching today, pacing is paramount.

There's a just right weave of tools, strategies, efforts, and endeavor to teach children well, and that weave will look different in every classroom and every school dependent on content, culture, and client.

Too much of a good thing can exhaust teachers and students, yet too little will dull the climate, content, and clients.

Hence, pacing is paramount.

Positive pacing is dependent on the following:
  • Lead time and planning with regard to "loose-tight" curriculum maps.
  • Initial assessment of students' needs, interests, and passions.
  • Daily, flexible responsive action that aims to teach the program as well as the students, thus the need for careful analysis and response.
  • Time: time for planning, time for reflection, and time for response--making sure that all involved play an integral part in the overall structure and performance of the learning community. 
  • Streamlined systems of communication, paper work, and service delivery--systems that are targeted, and systems that place most time and effort on the positive care and teaching of students.
What led me to this post was the fact that our end of the year plans and activity need review. We did a lot!  Classroom teachers spent the last week nurturing children without many of the typical services, services which did not occur due to early ending or special events that prohibited service delivery.  Classroom teachers also completed the following:
  • completed report cards
  • classroom clean-up and organization for upcoming summer programs
  • next year's orders
  • end-of-year letters and folders
  • move-up letters and folders
  • open houses and celebrations
  • regular lesson planning
  • field trips
All the activities listed above are positive events and endeavor, but perhaps too much for single teachers to complete in one week's time.

How can we pace the end of the year better?  First with regard to field studies--how can more teachers get involved?  For example, with inclusion classes, perhaps special educators and specialists also attend and help out--that would give teachers time for a break or to help individual children.  Perhaps with orders and other paperwork, the pacing includes greater lead time and professional time to do the work. Currently most of that work is done on a teacher's own time.  And as far as student's social/emotional needs at the end of the year, perhaps we think differently about when special services end, and how special services are delivered during the last week's of school.

In this age of multiple, positive tools and strategies, how have your efforts with pacing changed?  How have roles changed too with regard to end-of-year efforts and endeavor?  Have you looked at ways of putting more staff in direct contact with students at the end of the year to help out with the social/emotional issues that occur  For example one little girl in our school was repeating, "I hate summer." due to the fact that she loves her teacher and the school so much.  

This is a topic I'll be thinking more about as I embark on next year's learning/teaching journey.  I welcome your thoughts and suggestions with regard to pacing because pacing is paramount in 21st century schools.