Friday, August 2, 2019

The #1 Thing You MUST Give Teachers BEFORE School Starts

Each year, leaders make their plans for school improvement, and this is typically how it goes. Set goals, determine action steps,  find new resources and training everyone before school starts.  Have additional meetings to ensure everyone knows everything to make this a great start to the year, and then give teachers time to work.

While every bit of this is extremely important, all of the meetings and trainings can leave teachers with a whole lot of things to do and not a lot of time to do them all. If we want teachers to be highly successful with our initiatives, there is one thing they definitely want and we must give them at the beginning of the school year. 

Time to Process and Apply

Yes, we need to take time to welcome back our people and celebrate our progress.  We need to take time for team-building, but we also need to remember that with every piece of training, they need time to process all of the new information we want them to know. While meetings and trainings are invaluable, so is time to collaborate with peers.  Even more important is the time teachers need to take information back to their rooms so they can make a plan to apply that information. Time spent in training is wasted if we don’t give time for teachers to work both together and alone to process the information and make a plan to implement it.

Furthermore, we can’t expect teachers to process multiple days of training of new and complex content. If we want them to be successful, it is best use of their time and our resources, if beginning of school year activities provide teachers deep learning about one or two things rather than multiple things. Additionally, if we believe whole group instruction is just one component of learning for kids, we must believe the same about adults and their learning. Teachers need the gradual release of responsibility in their learning also. They need staff development time dedicated to collaborative learning with their team and time for independent learning to take the learning gained from whole group and collaborative learning and determine how best to implement what they have learned. 

If we want teachers to be successful this year, we must give them TIME. We must structure professional learning time that values teachers more than it values content. At the end of the day when teachers consider the learning needs of their kids first, the content usually takes care of itself. The same is true schools considering the needs of their teachers first and the content we want them to learn second. At the start of this school year, value your teachers by valuing their learning time. 

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