Now I'm turning the corner and digging into the detail work that relates to teaching well. I work in a shared model that holds lots of promise for teaching students well. The state I work for has many good initiatives and efforts in place. The union I belong to is similarly supporting teachers' good work and service to students as well as fair working conditions. There are still changes that I'd like to see, and changes I will work towards, but essentially I'm diving into the arena of what it means to give students the best possible holistic education while they are in my charge. I will extend my work by writing about it and continuing my research.
In the meantime, I'll also embrace a more realistic schedule of work and personal endeavor. Working around the clock for years was the right thing to do at the time and fortunately I had the personal at-home support to do that. Now, however, I want to take my weekends and most nights back so I have good energy for the days when I'm at school focused on the children.
There's many systematic efforts that can help teachers have more realistic schedules, and those efforts include the following:
- Good communication so educators know what has happened, is happening, and will happen. Poor communication means more work for everyone.
- Streamline the outer layer of administrators and coaches so that most people in school systems are providing direct service to students. In the past many years, an outer layer of coaches, administrators, and consultants has grown heavy which I think has added an extra layer of stress to teachers while providing less hands on deck when it comes to serving children and their families.
- Look at how time is used in schools. It remains true that some positions require work long before and after the school day while other positions have far less required time-on-task--this is inequitable and should be remedied in schools everywhere.
- Rethink meetings and leadership moving towards better models of distributive leadership to foster greater autonomy, mastery, and purpose--ingredients that lead to professional success in all areas of work and service.
Realistic schedules help educators to be energized and healthy, and healthy, energetic educators have what they need to teach children well.