Monday, October 14, 2013

"When am I suppose to find time to teach?"

A couple of years ago, my school started treating Columbus Day as a day for Professional Learning for our staff. Prior to this, we typically treated it as a normal school day. The decision to switch this was voted on by our Association to give us a day of professional learning before January. As a group, we decided to give our staff a chance to learn some great new methods or strategies while the school year was still young, instead of waiting until it was half over.

Today, we focused on Student Growth Objectives and Tier 1 Interventions. I do feel these are two very important elements to not only a well run classroom, but a highly achieving school as well. Both of these areas are also very important for impacting instruction and achievement in every classroom. We were given a lot great information on how to help us write effective SGOs along with ways to implement Tier 1 Interventions for struggling students.

Even with all of this new information, I was having trouble quieting the voice in my head that was screaming, "When am I suppose to find time to teach?" See, each of these areas have a lot of paperwork to complete. Not just a sheet or two, but pages upon pages to complete during my "free time." This is time I am taking away from what is the most important part of my job: creating high quality, engaging lessons!

The implementation of our new RTI program includes a new computer program to learn that will help us document all of the ways we interact with our students. I know this is a critical component to creating a culture of learning in our classrooms. I know this will ultimately help me reach a number of students that maybe before I may have missed. But...

"When am I suppose to find time to teach?"

My main complaint is that all good teachers do this already. We take the time to pre-assess our students to determine their current level of understanding. We constantly provide formative assessments that assist us in adjusting our instruction. We reach out constantly to struggling students to find ways to get them involved in the learning that is going on in our rooms. But...

"When am I suppose to find time to teach?"

I am insulted that now we need to document all of the things that we do naturally. I do not like that I have to take time to fill out forms on how I am helping Johnny instead of actually helping Johnny! I am now expected to use a checklist to document my conversations or actions with a number of my students to show my effectiveness as a teacher. Yes, I am offended...because..."When am I suppose to find time to teach?"

Where on these forms is the place to check off that through my relationship with a struggling 8th grader, I convinced him to sign up for the school newspaper because I know he likes to write his own rap lyrics? Where on the form is the spot to check off that shows I can now hold a conversation with a student that last year grunted at me with his head always down? Yes, I am offended...because..."When am I suppose to find time to teach?"

Good teachers do these things naturally. Not because we want to fill out forms, but because we genuinely care about the people that occupy those desks. I did not become a teacher to fill out forms. I became a teacher to make a difference. I hope making teachers complete these forms does not have a negative effect, our students do not deserve that!

Thank you for giving me a chance to vent my to get started on my lessons...because... "When am I suppose to find time to teach?"


Mrs. Corbat said...

Thank you for writing and sharing this, Jim. Our elementary schools went through a similar process about 5 years ago when RtI (MTSS) was first implemented. I believe many teachers felt the way you are feeling today. Thankfully, we have moved away from our old ways and have learned more effficient ways for documenting interventions. This year it will be even better because we have a new computer program that is VERY user friendly and not nearly as labor intensive. It was 'invented' by a teacher in a neighboring district.
Hang in there!

Ben Gilpin said...

Jim I feel your pain. As a classroom teacher years ago, I found the amount of senseless paperwork frustrating. I felt as though I had to document every tiny detail. Internally I would think, "Who reviews all of this paperwork?" "Who has time to review it?"

We have a RTI/MTSS system in our school and I fully realize we are still working out the kinks, but what is truly important is Tier 1 instruction...strong Tier 1 instruction will lessen the load for Tier 2 & 3. Your intentions are correct, you need time to plan engaging, lively lessons so that you won't have several students at Tier 2 & 3.

I feel bad that you have additional paperwork on your plate, I think you see the big picture...paperwork does not equal good teaching. I'm wondering if you have thought about transitioning to administration. I hope you have, your viewpoints would be welcomed and refreshing. Thanks for posting and sharing.