In yesterday’s post Alysia and Beth offered some insight into the research on which their new book, No More Sharpening Pencils During Work Time and Other Time Wasters, is based. Today, they offer compassion and inspiration regarding classroom time management.
Reading this book one is struck by how much respect you have for teachers. Can you talk about the kind of ally you think teachers need right now?
Thanks! We hope to be allies who suggest helpful solutions to the kinds of challenges many teachers face. Teachers, as well as education in general, are often the target of a lot of bashing, and the demands placed on teachers by ever changing policies and multiple stakeholders can leave them feeling really beat up. We offer teachers tools they can use to take back control of their own practice and make every precious minute they have count. Additionally, we strongly believe researchers and teachers should work hand in hand toward the common goal of improved learning outcomes for all students.
Alysia, you explain, “As a researcher, one of the most important lessons I have learned—from talking with and observing dozens of teachers over the years—is that promoting academic engaged time is not easy.” What words of wisdom can you offer teachers that will inspire them to accomplish this difficult task?
Keep trying. When something doesn't work, replay it in your head and talk it over with others—analyze what happened and decide what you might do differently next time. Become a reflective practioner and don’t try to do it all by yourself. That’s the key!
The goal of this book is to give teachers specific tools for maximizing the time students spend being academically engaged. Can you suggest an idea or two they can use to evaluate and improve a unit or lesson they’re teaching right now?
As we say in section 3, start with “something that feels doable” (p. 48). Concentrate on making one section of the day more efficient. For example, say you’re teaching a unit on the life cycle of the human being. Instead of spending the first fifteen minutes of a lesson lecturing on what students have learned so far (sitting still for fifteen minutes uses up their attention span), use a mix-pair-share format. The review still takes place, and students are socially active instead of sitting and waiting for new information. Orchestrating an active, engaging activity takes less time than regurgitating previous instruction.