Imagine Less Time with Students
I want more time...but not with my students.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my students. They are the best part of my job by far. If all I had to do was hand out worksheets and reading assignments, I would certainly ask for more time to hang out with these crazy, kooky kids. However, I don’t only hand out worksheets and reading assignments. I teach, really teach.
But really teaching takes time spent without my students. For each hour of good teaching, I need a significant amount of time to plan, co-plan, and learn new teaching methods or technologies. Unfortunately, this time requirement is not met within the school day. If I’m lucky, I can catch a colleague to have a rushed discussion on best practices during a planning period or a rare teacher-led professional development day. But a good portion of the planning and learning comes home with me each day.
I never thought I’d say it, but less time teaching might make me a better teacher.
This statement speaks to the adage of quality over quantity. So while it might seem counter-intuitive, it makes sense when you look at the facts. An article in NEA Today notes that teachers in Finland, which currently has the top performing schools in the world, spend only about half of the day directly teaching students. This leaves the other half of their work day in purposeful professional development, collaborative planning, and working with parents.
As if that weren’t proof enough that U.S. teachers need more time, a study by Stanford University shows that other high-performing nations give their teachers even more time for planning and professional development than Finland does. Countries such as Korea, Japan, and Singapore only have teachers working directly with students for 35 percent of the work day. This is a far cry from the norm in the U.S., where teachers average 80 percent of their time with students.
Wow, am I jealous.
Every day I imagine what kind of teacher I could be if I had adequate prep time consistently built into my day. I imagine feeling confident, even proud, about my lessons. I imagine being able to show my students the importance of quality vs. quantity. I imagine being part of a competitive U.S. school system that takes back its lead role in innovation and critical thinking.
I imagine...but I’m tired of just imagining.