Seeing the time problem from a kid’s perspective is important. It is eye opening to see how teachers are forced to marginalize recess, creative subjects, and even math and science. But it’s also important to see the effect of a school’s hours on a teacher’s time. With only 6.5 hours in the day, and no time allotted outside of the school day, teachers in my school get little in the way of professional development, collaborative meeting time, and just plain breathing time.
In turnaround schools in Massachusetts, time for teachers to collaborate, use data to plan interventions, and attend professional development is critical. In a school without turnaround supports such as extra time, teachers have little time for these activities. In my school:
• Teacher teams (by grade level) have only one hour of common planning time per week to discuss curriculum, student progress, etc
• The school’s data team has to meet before school because there is no time during the day
• Professional development occurs once a month for about two hours, after school
Not only do time restrictions mean that teachers don’t have time to be the professionals they want to be, but there are also quite a few requirements that eat into a teacher’s instructional time. For instance, consider some of these influences on my 2012 Kindergarten class’ time last year:
• Parent-teacher meetings (26 meetings @ ½ hour each = 13 hrs lost teaching time)
• Special education meetings (2 meetings twice / year @ ½ hour each = 2 hrs lost teaching time)
• English as a Second Language testing (7 testing groups @ 1 hr each = 7 hrs lost teaching time)
• Reading tests (26 students @ 20 min each, 2 times/yr = 17 hrs lost teaching time)
That’s about 40 hours, or six days of teaching time. All of the above activities are important – testing gives us critical insight into what our students need, parent-teacher meetings are necessary for communication, and special education meetings are required by law. If we want to incorporate data, community, and specialized support into our schools, we need more time.