There is a lot in place that supports quality teaching and learning where I teach. We have a good amount of grade-level and individual planning time, a terrific shared model for teaching/learning, the ability to attend some outside-of-school learning events, and some say over our schedules.
As I think of teaching well, I'm also thinking about what else would help me do my job well. I note the following efforts in this regard:
Regular Inclusive Curriculum Information Share
As much as possible, it would be great to receive a regular newsletter that lists what has happened with regard to curriculum, what is currently happening, and what is planned for the future. At the building level, we receive a Friday newsletter that lists important school information. This newsletter has streamlined the need for questioning and given educators at my building good information for planning and preparation. In addition the building memo is a shared memo that all educators are invited to add to which makes the information-share even better. If we were to receive a comprehensive curriculum share on a regular basis, I believe it would better the work we are able do in that arena.
Often important information is not shared with sufficient lead time to do a good job. It's important for those who work with educators to realize how tight our schedules are particularly since most of our time is spent on task with students. Lead time affords us the time to do a good job.
Good Process and Time for Curriculum Teamwork
At the grade-level we have good time for teamwork which is ideal. It would also be helpful to have some time-on-task for teamwork with regard to curriculum planning and share across district. We have a few hours targeted for this kind of work, but we haven't updated our processes so the share is often not dynamic. Forwarding modern ways of sharing with targeted goals and use of technology, I believe we could better invigorate and develop our shared curriculum efforts.
Re-Look at the Year's Calendar, Traditional Events, and Publication of that Calendar in June
Many educators do a lot of curriculum work over the summer. Publishing the year's calendar of main events in June means that educators would have the chance to match some of their curriculum work to main system-wide events. This could be a win-win because it could provide students with a good audience and venue to present their work and learning. Our arts department does this by including music in most of the school system's big events which is wonderful.
Streamline Ordering and Purchasing
This effort is improving as last year was the first year we were able to order using an online system. I continue to think the system could save money and time by hiring a purchasing agent who organizes and streamlines the process making it easy for people to order materials, helping people get the best deals, and having a broad look at what is being ordered by whom. I suspect that there is some overlap with ordering that could be eliminated with a more centralized process. Currently to order any materials for teaching is a cumbersome process for educators.
Online Payment for Field Studies and Classroom Events
There's been a desire for a long time to have an online payment system for field studies and classroom events. It seems that this is in the works which is good. This will save substantial time for families and educators since the current process of collecting money from students for field studies is cumbersome and time consuming.
Streamlined Evaluation System
Currently the software we use to add evaluation information is cumbersome and outdated. It's difficult to tell the story of your effort on this software as you can't easily implement video, hyperlinks, text features, images, and more. It's quite old fashioned. Also the system we use is cumbersome too. I believe our system takes more time than it's worth. While I value the evaluation system, I believe the reporting efforts and evidence requirements can be greatly simplified to still meet the system's strength and requirements while taking less time and adding more value. Fortunately our new teachers' contract has established a committee of educators and administrators to re-look at this system in an effort to streamline the requirements. This is a good idea.
Years ago furniture was ordered for educators with very limited teacher input. Teachers were given lists of traditional furniture choices and asked to choose which items they wanted. In the meantime, ideal teaching/learning furniture choices are changing quickly. For example many students prefer hoki stools to old time chairs. Teachers desire rolling tables rather than desks as tables can be easily used in multiple ways to foster group work, individual test taking, circle conversation, and more. It's important that educators are integrated into furniture decisions so that they can foster modern classrooms and modern learning.
More Personalized Professional Learning
Most of our professional learning remains one-size-fits-all though this year there was a change from all elementary school teachers to grade-level groups for most learning. If educators have greater voice with regard to professional learning events at the system level, I believe the professional learning will develop in ways that matter.
More Transparent and Inclusive Data Share
While I don't think it's necessary to show teachers' names on data that relates to their classrooms since most students' progress depends on many, many factors including the many teachers that support that student, home environments/support, student health and emotional wellness, and more, I do think that the general data collected that relates to an educators' charge is important to share in transparent ways. For example recently I wanted to compare our grade-level students' math scores to systemwide scores for students, but was unable to get that information. That information would have been helpful to me as it would have helped me to understand if our students were scoring similarly to their peers across district or dissimilar. If their scores were not as good, that would have led to further questions about pedagogy, profiles, and more. While data never tells the whole story, knowing and understanding the data can help to develop programs in ways that matter, and I believe that educators should have the ability to look at that data. Fortunately educators are able to look at this data at a state level and this helps.