Monday, March 7, 2011

"Finding Time" and 3/8/11 Tech Tuesday Links

I’ve been working with several groups of teachers in our county to “sell” the idea of finding time to collaborate with each other.  It hasn’t been a hard sell to the teachers.  It’s the administrators that have a hard time wrapping their minds around it because it usually means a change in the way a school’s schedule is designed.  As an added bonus, I’m also pitching the concept of finding time for student intervention in the schedule.   For elementary schools, both of these concepts seem to be easier to implement.  At the middle school and high school level I hear constantly that there just isn’t enough time in the schedule to do any of this.  Some schools have been using the same schedule for more than five years while others continue to tweak their schedules each year with little to no results.  One district paid a scheduling consultant to come in and meet with a committee to see how the schedule could be improved.  I think everyone is in agreement of the importance of teachers meeting to plan their lessons and discuss students.  I also think we all understand the importance of incorporating intervention time into the day for students who are struggling.  The hard part is finding the time to do so.  Some districts are willing to pay teachers to stay after to accomplish some of this work but in the end they are expecting teachers to make a choice between professional responsibilities and their personal responsibilities.  Unfortunately, we haven’t come up with all of the answers.  Everyone knows what is needed but getting there remains the problem.  I started talking to principals about the concept of changing the schedule and then realized some principals didn’t know how the schedule worked.  In several cases, the guidance counselors set up the schedule based on what teachers were available to teach a particular course.  This led me to believe that we needed to expand our circle for educating about the need for finding time.  I’ll be facilitating a round-table discussion of area middle school and high school principals about what can be done to the “almighty schedule” to allow teacher collaboration time and student intervention time.  I hope to have the audio portion posted at  after the meeting on Thursday March 10, 2011.  Next month, we’ll address the guidance counselors and get their thoughts.