What Will You Do with Your Extra Time?
Daylight Saving Time was just two weeks ago; it marked the day we got back the hour that was borrowed from us last spring. Since then, I can wake up without an alarm, I tell myself I should get up in the mornings for a workout (which somehow never seems to happen), and I revel in the ability to be fully awake when reading the first e-mail of the day. But the extra-hour euphoria lasts only a short time. As soon as my body get used to the new schedule, that extra hour is long forgotten. Time is a funny thing, seeming to be abundant one minute and scarce the next.
In the fall semester, there seems to be plenty of time to get through the required curriculum, but without judicious planning, it can slip away almost unnoticed until panic sets in as the spring semester begins to fly. As science leaders, we likely have a voice in the yearly curriculum calendar, guiding teachers on the scope and sequence for each course, but it is also our job to help teachers make the best use of all the bits and fragments of daily and weekly time that add up to substantial minutes of learning. So here are two of the major time bandits and some purposeful ways to gather just a few more moments for learning.
Teach Bell to Bell
Teaching Bell to Bell means being ready with a warm-up or a “do now” activity right when the bell rings and then having a conclusion activity as the class is wrapping up. You know the idea: Have a short exercise that students can complete independently as class begins, which will set the stage for the day’s lesson or connect to an idea from a previous lesson. Concluding activities can be a summary or an exit ticket showing mastery of the day’s lesson objective. When you encounter teachers who are hesitant or lack confidence, it may be useful to have them partner and plan with you or another teacher to add the openers and closers to their lesson plans. While some instructors may be inclined to say they can spontaneously generate ideas in the midst of a lesson, intentional and thoughtful questions are infinitely more effective.
Use the Magic of Mondays and Fridays
The business world knows that the most productive day of the week is Tuesday. In education, we’re just getting back in the groove on Monday and we’re preparing for the weekend on Friday. Our teachers’ lesson plans sometimes reflect Spartan activities for these two weekdays, resulting in a substantial loss of instruction. So as you visit classrooms, don’t avoid stopping by at the beginnings and the ends of the weeks, including days just before and just after holidays. Look for and expect rich lessons, labs, and even tests and quizzes on each and every instructional day. When every day is planned and taught with equal importance, students realize that missing any day of class means missing essential information.
Of all the resources a teacher has available, time seems to be the most precious. So use that time well, because it’s just a matter of time before the hour is borrowed back once again in the spring.