Thursday, February 21, 2013

It's About Time!

Today I want to focus on what is probably the biggest stumbling block for me as a teacher. There is one thing that limits the amount of material I can cover, the depth that I go into that material, and the success students can have in my class. Common problems that those with a higher pay grade than me focus on are the levels of students and differentiation, money for supplies, technology, or the curriculum. All of these things are important, but I am convinced that there is a bigger problem facing me in the classroom.


I simply do not have enough time in a class to cover the material that I need or want to cover. I do not have enough time to go as deep as I would like. I am not talking about prep time, even though that is never enough. I am talking about physical time in the classroom with students. I am talking about time before and after school where I can work with students with individual problems. I am talking about the length of the class period, the number of days the class uses, and the interruptions that take away from class time. Give a good teacher enough time and many of the problems facing our schools will disappear.

With a snow day tomorrow (which looks likely), my school will not have two consecutive days without an interruption to our schedule in the last three weeks. We have early releases every other Wednesday, homeroom periods used for registration, standardized testing days, holidays, teacher inservice days, and snow days. I realize that these days are important for district initiatives and some can not be helped, but it is seriously cutting into the flow of class. I do not think I am talking about my school only, and I know I am not talking about just this month. Teachers need time with students.

As a nation, we are throwing a ton of money at initiatives like technology integration, differentiation, STEM, special education, and numerous others. We are trying to put out fires that may never have been started if teachers were given enough time. Should we start to look at lengthening the school day? Lengthening the school year? Limiting interruptions to class time? Every year I seem to be tossing out curriculum because I could not get to it. The students are not getting slower, and my passion for those subjects has not wavered. I have to make choices about depth, and content that without a doubt hurt student performance.

I am sure I am not the only one to feel this. Comments are always welcome.