Monday, January 18, 2010

My new (old) obsession: time

Education Sector's paper Teachers at Work is incredibly enlightening. It focuses on the ridiculously small amounts of time teachers have to plan and collaborate and focuses on a small group of charter schools (Generation Schools) that are creating new structures that give students more learning time and teachers more collaboration time while using the same resources.

According to the paper, American teachers have the least amount of planning time (time away from students) of any industrialized country in the world. We need to change this but I would guess that the reason this is not currently part of the Race to the Top policy focus is that we are not trusted to use extra time wisely.

The teaching needs to be more professional. If it is not a focus of the current Race to the Top, then we need to create more examples of schools that do creative things with teacher time and student time. Teaching is an incredibly hard grind and with all of the things we are asking teachers to do i.e. close the achievement gap and teach 21st century skills, we need to give them more time.

If we can create more school examples that are successful like the very early pilot of Generation schools, then it might become a policy initiative that cannot be ignored (I have decided to be hopeful today).