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Saturday, December 12, 2015

What Does It Really Mean to Teach Well?

Can an educator prepare and present three-five top notch lessons a day with approximately one-hour or less of official planning time a day?

Is one issue with quality education the simple fact that educators do not have the time they need to research, plan, and present high-quality learning opportunities?

Has anyone truly taken the time to break down the roles in education and analyze what each professional is doing and the impact the details of that role have on teaching children well?

It's likely that a lot of roles in education stay the same and do not change no matter the impact simply because it takes time and creates change when that happens. Both time and change present challenges to any organization.

I can speak for teachers who are in charge of large numbers of students most of the day and rated by standardized tests and other measures. Teachers like that, and I'm one of them, are required to present multiple high-quality, differentiated, standards-based, student-centered learning experiences a day. There is great satisfaction in leading quality learning experiences for children as you see the engagement, growth, and enthusiasm that result.

Yet, at times, educators work is challenged in that regard due to multiple factors including the time it takes to complete forms, organize field studies, respond to emails, take mandated trainings, xerox papers, organize/clean classrooms, and watch children at play during recess or transition times.

So one positive step in the year ahead is to to take teacher's time seriously, and to make sure that educators have the time and support they need to craft, personalize, deliver, and assess quality learning experiences. This may mean shifting some roles to make more time so that there's sufficient time to do this job well. But this doesn't necessarily mean more dollars.

If you want to make this happen I suggest you start with the following. Make a chart with each educators name, the number of minutes a day on task, and the number of students that teacher is responsible for during that time. Also make a list of the prep time that goes into each lesson. Then make connections between that work and school-wide goals and expectations. Perhaps do this for one week. At the end of the week analyze if there's sufficient time given to educators to meet the goals set. You may find that you'll be able to make more time for significant goals by adapting expectations and role definitions a bit. That might make a fresh start with regard to teaching every child well.