Now it’s time to cover something that every teacher will just say, YES! One way to make schools better is to give teachers more time. Teachers are overrun with things they have to do, and it’s one of the only professions that does not really take into account planning time in the normal school day. Yes they get “a planning hour”, but the complexity of the teaching profession means there needs to be more there. Just like in the classroom, we need to create time out of thin air, and that can be really tough. There are ways though.
To understand what we need to do, we first need to understand the extras that teachers have to contend with. Most teachers' school days are full of teaching classes, and the time needs to be focused on their students. There is no time to plan, to organize, to grade, or do the other things that come with being in a classroom. The little time they get is either for a lunch break or for a planning time. Those times are usually taken though. They are either filled with professional development, team meetings, or just time to reset yourself.
So, how do we give teachers more time? I think the first step is to make that planning period sacred and/or useful. We have to stop taking that from teachers. This should never be a time for meetings, pd, or anything else that takes them out of their normal flow. Team planning meetings can be here since they are actually planning. They just have to make sense and can’t be forced. I know for me, they always felt forced because I was trying to plan a creative classroom with mainly lecture based teachers. I truly believe I might have been better off without them. I have also known planning meetings that put teachers together who aren’t exactly alike in the class they teach. I have been in team meetings with AP teachers when I teach regular classes, and those curriculums aren’t technically the same. How is that helpful to either teacher?
If the school day needs to be focused on the classroom, where do teachers actually have time they can spare for their own planning, professional development, and just general growth? It's summer. Yes, that’s weird to hear, but if we incentivise teachers to use the summer for more time, it can become an answer to our current overarching question.
How do we incentivise summer? It’s going to take funding, and that’s always hard to come by. We need to increase the paid possibilities that teachers get during the summer that are instructional related. It could be professional development, lesson planning, or a host of other activities. Maybe this can be a place for community teams to step in and provide for teachers in that summer planning, or schools can find that money. Doing so gives teachers time during the year.
I think the key here is to take off the teacher load. Anything you can do as an admin team member or school leader to remove that teacher load will help. You can incentivize them to help themselves or you can simply take off the extras. It’s all about being creative, so get creative with that time!