(Editor’s note: Reprinted from the latest edition of The Pelican Post, the newsletter of the Collier County Education Association (CCEA), the union of Collier County Public Schools teachers.)
By Martha McKee
What do you (teachers) do during your planning time? Ideally, you would be going over your next class presentation, grading student work, typing up a test, or preparing materials for your next unit.
It would be nice to have time to also check the Internet for unique and interesting ways to engage students with the content of upcoming lessons.
And you might even manage a quick trip to the restroom.
Though we should have this time to do all these things, the reality is our valuable planning time has been eroded as the district adds more and more to our already overloaded “to do” lists.
But what do you actually get done during your planning time? By the time you have completed your weekly lesson plans, filled your board with the assignments, essential questions, learning goals and scales for the day, completed your iObservation Deliberate Practice form, taken the Bloodborne Pathogen and Hazardous Communication tests, read and responded to your emails, and posted your student and parent contacts in Data Warehouse, there is not much time left to plan for instruction or assess student work.
Depending on your school or grade level, you may also be dealing with tasks such as Student-led Conferences, iPortfolios, Lesson Study, and grading of benchmark and quarterly tests, just to name a few.
The Collier County Education Association Issues Committee has repeatedly appealed to the district leaders to stop adding any more programs, projects or puffery until they start taking off what has already been piled high on our plates. Before district administrators launch a new project, surely they assess the costs, preview the materials, write up proposals, and, of course, provide a copy of their report to the superintendent to add to her list of accomplished goals.
Is it asking too much to have them also ask teachers how much time it will take us to prepare and implement these ideas? There is only so much we can fit into one day, but their expectation seems to be that our limited planning time will magically stretch out to accommodate the ever-increasing tasks.
We are busy all day with classrooms full of students, not parked at a desk in the administration center. All those impressive reports and presentations made at School Board meetings and Town Hall gatherings mean nothing if, by the time they filter down to the teacher and the classroom, there is no real impact on the student.
This is what overload causes: when there are too many tasks to accomplish, nothing gets done well.
The disconnect here is huge: the district must start considering the amount of time required for implementing all requests it makes of teachers. Otherwise, the time teachers need to plan effective instruction will be lost, and the focus of our school system — to raise student achievement — will suffer.