As a teacher, I was always concerned about time. How much time do I have to cover a topic?
How much material can I cover in one quarter or one school year? What if I run out of time to get it all done?
What if TIME isn’t the core issue? What if the problem was HOW I was spending my time? What if it was about how I was LEVERAGING the time I had with the learners? What if I could be more effective using new resources and tools so that I could make the time in my classroom more meaningful and more about learning?
Now that I have had the time to reflect on my teaching, I can see that the concern about having enough time was misguided. It is a popular myth that coverage of more material by an educator means they are more effective – if you aren’t keeping up with the pacing guide or other teachers in your grade level then you are clearly not doing something right, right? The Common Core State Standards should help in correcting that approach, helping me to get past the need to get through the materials and focus instead on getting important and deep concepts mastered by all the learners. What I have also learned is that the time I had is directly impacted by the types and effectiveness of the resources I used to help me accomplish my instruction. It is easier to decide what resources to spend valuable time with using some general guiding principals:
#1: I can create an environment rich with learning opportunities and approaches that put my students first by simply providing engaging and flexible resources – thus freeing up time to teach. As I look at the time I spent preparing lessons, finding resources to reteach, getting different assessment ideas, and even helping my students stay out of resources that were not relevant to what they were working on I was shocked at how little I had left for actually helping them learn. But, when I focused my energies on providing resources that could take some of the ‘overview’ or ‘introduction’ work for me with different topics, I was able to bake that time I saved back into classroom instruction with individual students.
#2: The more efficient and intuitive a resource is for me as a teacher, the more productive I am. The more productive I am in the planning and managing of instruction the more effective I can be with my students because I have changed the focus of my work from gathering and multi-tasking to tasks centered on creating understanding with my learners.
#3: If resources, like netTrekker, are more intuitive for my students, then I give them the ability to drive their own learning experiences. Streamlining searching for materials, making multiple formats of resources easily accessible, offering organization tools for students to save and share resources and even giving students assistive functions that will help them connect to the material in ways that increase comprehension all make students more capable of helping themselves learn and problem solve when they encounter challenges or don’t understand materials.
So, isn’t it about time I start utilizing all the amazing ways to save time and be more efficient with my time?