08 February 2010

Hurts So Good

There are not a lot of perks in my job. I have not had a full week off of work since August 2008. I earned more as a teacher, considering the length of contract. And I have a ton more nonsensical bureaucracy to navigate now. But there are a few perks I mentioned last fall. In addition, I do get to work from home one or two days a week. Best of all? I get all the time I need for planning. I used to love this part of teaching---the creative energy that comes with sitting down with your materials and putting the pieces together in meaningful ways.

It is just as big of a rush to plan staff development for adults as it is lessons for students. The difference is the timeframe. With adults, I typically have anywhere from 90 minutes to 16 hours of meeting time. Quite often, I only get to present the material once. This can be a maddening thing. When I started doing staff development several years ago, the original Boss Lady told me that there is usually a 3:1 ratio of time for these events: three hours of planning for every one hour of delivery. It is a luxury that could never be afforded for classroom work (although I would argue it is more important there). There are 15 hours of content I will be managing next week during my assessment group meeting---which means that more than a work week should be devoted to planning. A part of this planning is easy, because this group does need time to work. All I have to do for that is set the task and budget the time, then support the process during their efforts.

Some of this planning, however, is mind-bending. It would be embarrassing to admit that I needed five hours to put together just a single hour of content (presentation plan, slides, materials), if the results weren't so good. I keep thinking that things will be easier as I accumulate experience---that I will be able to just crank out staff development. I suppose I could if I didn't care about quality (or didn't have the time to devote), I could easily whip out some PD. Doing so would probably be more painful for participants to sit through than it is for me to have to be so very tedious with my planning. I can't let that happen when it hurts so good to put something magical together.


Jenny said...

I would take a 1:1 ratio of planning time to teaching. As it stands, I can't even get close to that.

The Science Goddess said...

I think teachers should have an abundance of planning time (especially elementary).

Some secondary teachers can get close to 1:1 if they only have one prep (e.g. biology); however, even then that is nowhere near the time necessary to think about the needs of 150 students.

I'm not sure what we do about this. As grateful as I am for the time and headspace I have now, it's very frustrating to see these issues at the classroom level. I remember wanting so much to have the time to be creative and purposeful with 180 days worth of lessons. The reality was that I needed to do other things with my weekends and summers could only get me so far.

If we could re-engineer the school day...what might it look like for both kids and teachers?