My biggest need as a professional is time, and in particular, time to collaborate with other teachers.

There is just no time to do what I really want to do at the level of quality that I would like to do it.  I am fortunate enough to have an hour long prep time each day.  (I know many schools don’t even allow for that.)  However, much of that time is taken by meetings: IEP mtgs, pre and post observational mtgs, RtI mtgs, etc.  Much of my work such as correcting and lesson planning is taken home in order for it to get done.

But it’s not even the housekeeping stuff that I’m talking about in terms of time.  It’s also the time to collaborate with my coworkers: other fourth grade teachers including the arts and specialist teachers.  Many times, during a 5-10 minute chance meeting, we will get a great idea, but then it is hard to follow through because our schedules don’t allow it.  We are contained in our own classes with little time to reach out to the other talented adults with whom we work.

This needs to start changing and I’m sure in some districts or schools across the country it is.  (I would love to hear from you!)

For now, I’d like to go back to my notes from that PD day with Mike Wasta.  He said that in some areas of the world such as in Finland, Sweden, the UK and Australia, up to 50% of a teacher’s working day is spent away from direct instruction.  That is unheard of in the US.  The general public would go crazy thinking, “WHAT are those teachers doing the rest of the time?” and, “Where are the students?”

Well, the students, I’m assuming are still working and studying, just with another teacher.  Collaboration!  And as for the teacher who is not with students, well he or she is working on their craft of being an educator.  In the dream school in my head, I can picture teachers collaborating and working on integrative lessons for students, reviewing student work and data, getting updated professional development and even teambuilding within themselves.

In terms of teacher’s work, here is a comparison again from my notes with Wasta:

“Old” Ways “New” Ways
Teacher Isolation Teacher Collaboration
Evaluation Coaching
Intuitive Decision Making Data Based Decision Making
Time as Constant Achievement as Constant
Rigid Top-Down Management Flat Management

The world is changing and it is calling for a new educational system.  One that is based on teachers collaborating and becoming respected leaders in their own field.  We have a need for this kind of system, but in order for that to happen, we need the time to make it possible.

Next Blog (due out on Saturday, February 27, 2010) – Ending thoughts on Education in a New Era

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