We need time to create

How to re-imagine the school week to invigorate students and teachers

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During talks with other teachers the main idea seems to be "I don't have time"  The number of teachers in Sonoma County contributing here is very low and I believe it is a lack of time.  SO how can we provide teachers with regular time for reflection and innovation? If we could teach 4 days and use the 5th day to work with students on more creative individual projects which would also allow for one on one remediation, I think we could be more successful.  In my 35 years, all I have ever wanted is more time to spend with students individually to address their interests, and so their needs.  I imagine at the high school teaching 4 days and on Friday meeting with only 2 of my 5 classes, one in the morning and one in the afternoon to work on projects.  This would rotate weekly so I would meet each group every 3 weeks.  One of those days would also provide me with a longer prep time to work on my own interests and PD needs.  It would reduce my lesson design by 20%, my paper grading by 20% and I think would be more efficient in terms of teaching content so I would not "lose instructional minutes."  The project based nature of the day would allow for more in depth look at  ideas.

Students would rotate around the school and there might need to be a study hall type set up to make it all work.

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Photo of Charles Shryock, IV
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Lee, I would love to see you update your idea with a new version based on all the feedback you've been receiving. Leave the first draft underneath, so readers can see how your idea has evolved.

In the new version, make sure to clarify what impact you predict this idea might have on teachers who participate. And also, what metrics would you use to measure that impact? 

Maybe you can even produce a quick sketch (image) of the schedule -- doesn't need to be refined, just enough to show a few options of how it might look. 

Photo of Ashley Haskins
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I like this idea and there are models where something like this exists and could be implemented in Sonoma County. Data collecting to qualify its effectiveness would need to be included. I think I would like something like this. I wonder though, if I would also feel with only 4 days, I would be saying again, 'I don't have enough time' 

Photo of LEE BOYES
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I think for good teachers we never have enough time to fully develop what we want to do.  I have learned that each year is better than the one before and it will never be done or perfect!

Photo of Charles Shryock, IV
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Are there any tools being used now in SCOE to track workplace culture, happiness? I'm thinking of something like the World Happiness Report from Gallup... http://worldhappiness.report/ LEE BOYES 

Photo of Charles Shryock, IV
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I also wonder if some of the research on collective restoration could be useful here...  (see https://teachersguild.org/challenge/how-might-we-reimagine-professional-learning-so-that-we-continue-to-grow-feel-inspired-and-have-impact-in-the-lives-of-our-students/research/vacation-work) 

Photo of Charles Shryock, IV
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Ashley Haskins What data would you collect to measure its effect on teachers? 

Photo of Charles Shryock, IV
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LEE BOYES Demonstrating the value of this idea is essential. Do you know of any relevant data already being collected by SCOE? 

Photo of Charles Shryock, IV
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Lee, maybe this idea needs to be refined a little bit. I am intrigued by the comments about 20% time for professional learning, and also with this line in your original post: "In my 35 years, all I have ever wanted is more time to spend with students individually to address their interests, and so their needs." Are teachers in your school able to implement 20% right now? How would having a large block of time, separate from regular classes, help? 

Photo of LEE BOYES
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No we do not have this now nor do I know of anywhere that it exists in schools

Photo of LEE BOYES
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I agree that there is a lot of great dialogue happening here.  Happy to get it started.  Too bad I have 150 kids with final exams that do not allow me time to explore further right now

Photo of Margaret Powers
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Hi LEE BOYES - there is so much great dialogue around your idea! I wanted to share this Storify https://storify.com/mpowers3/exploring-ways-to-redesign-school-schedules-for-ma of how some schools have altered their schedules to allow students more times for their passions. I wonder if we could use those same ideas to help make more time for teachers have opportunities for shared PD?

Photo of Emma Scripps
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Lee, 20% time is awesome. Love this. Keep building on it. How could this (practically) be implemented within Petaluma? Would the district leaders buy it? What would convince them that this is worth it? 

Photo of LEE BOYES
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I like what David Harrington had to say and I just heard the term strategic abandonment in regards to letting go of old time users in order to make room for new.

Photo of Charles Shryock, IV
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To test out the idea, I wonder if you might start with an "in-school field trip," with a full-day project-based design challenge. You could work with administration to identify goals and devise a way to measure the impact of the experience on BOTH teachers and students. And given the research interests of Jessica Hadid and Jennifer Gaspar- Santos maybe they would want to help design the study. 

Photo of Margaret Powers
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I love how you brought your thoughts from discover into the Ideate phase! I explored some similar ideas in our last challenge: https://teachersguild.org/challenge/how-might-we-create-rituals-and-routines-that-establish-a-culture-of-innovation-in-our-classrooms-and-schools/ideas/innovation-time-for-teachers

I wonder if giving teachers time for their own passions https://teachersguild.org/challenge/how-might-we-reimagine-professional-learning-so-that-we-continue-to-grow-feel-inspired-and-have-impact-in-the-lives-of-our-students/research/20-time-for-teachers could change how they approach professional learning? You could also talk to  Dan Ryder also shared an idea in our last #reimaginePD Twitter chat about a Time Bank that would let teachers have extra time to go out and learn new things.

Photo of Kevin Jarrett
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Time Bank - genius!

Here's another wrinkle - have an admin cover a class for a teacher who wants to take some time to dive into a topic, perhaps with some others. Coverage is always a concern in situations like these - but - with the principal shouldering some of the weight - everyone wins!

Photo of LEE BOYES
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AHH how does that work?  We had to ask our principal to set aside time in his schedule for us to speak to him because he is so busy with other meetings that to have a substantive conversation about curriculum or collaboration is very hard to do.  I am at a high school.

Photo of Kevin Jarrett
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I feel your pain, Lee. I have the most supportive principal imaginable and getting time with him is still a challenge. Does he have a secretary? Our does and she runs the show. Get on his dance card that way. If he does not, approach him with several available times and a mental agenda (no more than three items) and see if you can nail him down. Coming in early and staying late can also help, depends on the situation. GOOD LUCK!

Photo of Charles Shryock, IV
Team

I love this!  In regards to whole-class time, this is a case where less might be more.  Could the 5th-day rotation also provide opportunities for team teaching or integrated projects (students meet in teams with science and arts teacher at the same time)? The logistics of this might seem daunting, but I feel they are where the true opportunity lies. 

Love the connections that Margaret Powers made in her comment. I would also add in an idea from David Harrington that argued for moving this day to Mondays: https://teachersguild.org/challenge/how-might-we-create-rituals-and-routines-that-establish-a-culture-of-innovation-in-our-classrooms-and-schools/ideas/20-time-meets-mondays

Photo of LEE BOYES
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Sounds great!  Monday might promote less time "off" and having students work in collaborative cross disciplinary teams is a good idea