Helping teachers get – and maximize – planning time is more controversial than might be expected. The reality is time is a limited resource. So more time planning means less time with students.
Sarah Besand, a Teacher and Possip Reporter, shares ways to maximize planning time for teachers and administrators.
Staff members share through their Pulse Checks that limited teacher prep time and extra meeting time can be exhausting as they try to drive student learning and achievement. Yet administrators are often under significant pressure for student achievement and have paperwork, meetings, and requirements–where teacher input and participation is vital!
With this dynamic, teachers feel at odds with their principals, principals have high stakes deadlines, and two people who share a goal – student achievement – can feel at odds.
So–what can we do about it?
Our first recommendation is not a groundbreaking solution, but rather a gentle reminder: compassion.
All of our jobs are challenging in different ways. Teachers: We see you making those quick copies, differentiating instruction for learners, attending two IEP meetings in a week and providing thoughtful input, and trying to preserve your lunch break. We also know how critical planning time is for your success as an educator as described in this Kappan article: “Time for teacher learning, planning critical for school reform”.
Administrators: Every day, we watch you balancing – attending to student behaviors, attending district meetings, building positive culture throughout your school, and hiring fantastic new talent. We know you want to preserve planning time for teachers, and we know how many competing priorities you have for that time.
To navigate this tension, here are four strategies for teachers and administrators:
1. Know your district’s policy
- Teachers: Knowing your district’s stated policy regarding planning time is essential. Do some research and find out how much protected planning time you are supposed to have each week. This information can often be found by checking your district or school’s handbook or contacting your local Teacher’s Association. Knowing this information can help you communicate more clearly to administration if you are not receiving this time.
- Administrators: You probably already know the stated planning time expectations from your district, and if that’s you, you are ahead of the game! However, it is still worth a double-check to make sure policies from previous years are the same. Additionally, knowing this information and abiding by it goes a long way in retaining teachers over the years.