Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why our school needs a late start weekly.

Schooling in the 21st-century is flat out different than what we all experienced as we went through school.  Schools now are expected to graduate all students, and ensure that all students are learning at a high level.  The problem is, we are still stuck in a traditional structure of scheduling that allows for very little collaboration and innovation to occur.  Collaboration is an important part of what it means to be a professional.  Over the course of the next few years we will see massive reform take place in education.  Common Core, and standardized teacher evaluations to name a few at the top of my list.

TIME is a serious issue in schools in the US.  We currently spend the most time out of all countries in front of students (an average of over 1,000 instructional hours per year).  Yet on international exams we see dismal results.  So does seat time matter?  I have shared my views on seat time in the past.

Currently in both the high school and the elementary exists a hodgepodge of collaboration time.  This setup in my view is missing the ability to tie everything together.  We need cross curricular and vertical collaboration to truly be able to meet the needs of ALL students.  This is nearly impossible under our current schedule.  It will require our district, community and all stakeholders to take a risk and do something different.

I am thankful because as of this morning the school board approved a weekly late start that would begin in the 2013-14 school year.

The current plan is to start school at 9:00AM on Wednesday mornings on a weekly basis.  Teachers would collaborate from beginning at 8:00AM to 8:50AM leaving them a few minutes to get to class at 9:00AM.

I have come up with many issues that may be going through your mind right now.  I will list them below, and attempt to justify my particular views.

1. Why are you decreasing teaching time? I believe it is most important for teachers to be in front of students as much as possible, learning as much as possible. 

Research does not back up the idea that more is better with seat time.  If more time in front of teachers truly impacted achievement the US would do better on international assessments.  Research does support the fact that teachers need time to be professionals and have the ability to work with one another.  Teachers need structured time to address our new curriculum, implement best practice, have time to reflect, and provide good feedback for learning.  All of these are spotty at the moment, and we have pockets of greatness, but for us to truly be great we need to ensure that this is happening throughout the district.

2. I go to work at X time and I need to drop my child off at X time.  What am I supposed to do now?

We will still allow parents to drop their children off if they need to.  We will plan to adjust support staff to supervise or provide help with homework or offer programs.

3. Will you adjust bus times? 

Bus times would be pushed back a few minutes on Wednesdays.

4. Why have another meeting?

This is not just another meeting.  Teachers will be hard at work on the following areas, which currently rarely gets addressed.

  • Curriculum 
  • Instruction 
  • Best Practice
  • Developing high quality formative assessments 
  • Addressing our transition issues from the elementary to the high school
  • Lack of time in developing a true collaborative team across subject areas and grade levels
  • Vertical alignment 
  • Horizontal and cross curricular alignment

5. We have a good school, why the change?

"Good is the enemy of the great." Jim Collins

We are doing our best under our current schedule to address the needs of all students, but we are falling short.  The truth of the matter is that students are still falling through the cracks.  For us to be great it will take some innovative ideas, beginning with this late start concept.

"If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got." Henry Ford

My work begins now with how I will explain "the why" to our community, parents and all stakeholders over the coming months before the 2013-2014 school year.

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