The Strength of Weak Ties

Everyone participates. Everyone contributes. Leveraging the power of digital networks to connect people, resources and ideas to drive creativity and innovation forward...and actually accomplish something!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Time on my Mind

On my Web site, I have a feature called JakesNation, where I talk about my favorite things. Most are restaurants, but I do have some other things there. One is about my favorite teachers. Here is the description of the characteristics of my favorite teacher:

Anyone who wears their passion on their sleeve, anyone who realizes its about kids and not them, anyone who steps out and takes risks beyond their comfort zone, anyone who hasn't taught 30 years one time, anyone who is more than 5 periods and out, anyone who refuses to use the dreaded worksheet, anyone who refuses to use time as an excuse for absolutely everything, anyone who will move forward despite the obstacles...

I’ve highlighted in bold what this post is about.

Frankly, I’m tired of the time excuse. It’s almost a reflex now in teachers. “I’ve got no time to learn that, do that, participate in that.” An on and on….

In David Warlick’s post, We Are Afraid, David says this:

“Today, as a high school senior, he’s [his son] producing his own videos, and distributing them to friends over the Internet. It’s not just technology. The very nature of information has changed. Yet teachers have no more time to reflect on these changes, master new skills, harness new opportunities, and protect children from new dangers, than my teachers had in the 1950s and ’60s."

Yes they do.

That’s a pretty big blanket statement-many districts do provide teachers with time to do just that. And what ever happened to the prep period-wasted surfing MSN, creating online greeting cards, checking personal email, building ridiculous PowerPoints, or just grading poorly designed “assessments?” That’s right-how many hours are wasted grading worksheet after worksheet (10 questions X 120 kids = 1200 answers to grade-yep, now you don't have time) that provide limited potential to improve instruction. Let’s try a different type of assessment, called assessment FOR learning that provides a better picture of what the kids are learning and how to improve instruction that can be done every day, in real time, to improve how you teach on how kids learn.

Regarding the mastery of new skills, we all know that there are some districts that do not, or cannot, provide frequent and quality professional development. But what about the districts that can and do, and conscientiously provide quality programs during the school day about meaningful issues, provide substitutes for attendance, and provide post-program experiences to extend the learning beyond the original program, but can’t get any teachers so sign up? What about that? Why does that happen-well, the answer is: "I don't have time for that."

Sometimes to improve what you do, you have to step away from the classroom. Invest in yourself and your kids. Take the time....

What I am saying is that teachers must shoulder some of the blame for time issues. It’s not just the fault of the administrators...we all bear responsibility for time management and improving the use of time in schools, and how technology is used to support learning but to say we haven't been allowed to do our jobs, or haven't been pushed, well, that's not true. I push all the time in my job, and I get pushed back (read resistance here)!

However, on a positive note, I’ve never met a teacher that couldn’t make time for something they thought would improve what they do in the classroom.

So with that in mind, could a teacher spare 15 minutes of time to advance their own professional growth as it relates to technology or education in general? You can't argue that-just 15 small minutes during one day in one week-that's an hour a month. Nine hours in a school year. Not much, but what would you suggest a teacher could do in that time frame that would increase their understanding of the Read/Write Web, assessment, leadership, or any other topic pertaining to education?

Let's build a list. Simple things that can move everyone forward. Hopefully you'll have the...time... to contribute one thing.

Contribute to the list at my wiki page:


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