The classroom’s atmosphere is relaxed. There’s a low buzz, and sweet words are floating through the air. Sharp minds—along with sharp pencils—are working hard. This is your classroom, right?
The average classroom is more like a swinging door, buzzing phone, interruption zone. Teachers only wish the school came equipped with quiet zones so they could teach.
If teaching isn’t on the school calendar, what is? Here are seven reasons why teachers aren’t teaching.
A specialist who needs to test, the local music shop that wants to get orders for musical instruments, and the boy scout troop are scheduled for that week. In addition, a day’s unscheduled visits like the custodian in need of a friend, the upper-grade students asking to borrow supplies, and the volunteer who wants to talk creates a start-n-stop atmosphere.
You feel like you’ve accomplished nothing, then a grandmother shows up with cupcakes for a birthday party. You want to scowl but how can you? Everyone is trying to help the children without realizing their visits are stopping the flow of teaching and learning.
Emails to answer, plan a presentation for the school spring fling, and add content to the school website. Don’t forget to load pictures to the school Facebook page, and read that article your principal passed around for everyone to read.
The school’s having a hot dog extravaganza, cake walk, silent auction, or carnival to raise money. You’re in charge of decorating. Yep, even though it’s Saturday, you’re standing in a carnival booth rather than writing out spellbinding lesson plans.
Of course, we don’t intend to beg, but folks … when the glue sticks are gone, you ask for supplies. Classrooms don’t come equipped with tissues and hand sanitizer. Quite often, we don’t even have the books our students need. One time I walked into a brand new school with no books for a classroom library for students to check-out to take home as homework readers.
We’re busy adding a supply list to our newsletter instead on focusing on sharing the skills the students are learning and how parents can help at home.
Who manages the chess club, the Girls on the Run team, and the Spanish Club? Teachers. Yes, after school, the tired teachers spend their time working with kids. What’s wrong with teachers using after-school time to prepare lessons for the next day and recharge?
The school graciously provides a substitute so you can administer progress monitoring tests. A day out of the classroom sounds good until you realize it took three hours to prepare for a substitute.
At a student desk in the hallway, you start the tests. The first grader wants you to read the word compare, and you aren’t allowed to help. You sit there waiting, while the child writes the answer to the comprehension question thinking what a good time it would be to do some one-on-one tutoring.
Instead of scoring the child’s written answer, you want to help them learn how to improve it. As in many whole-group lessons, this child hasn’t figured out how to read the hard words. Tension mounts. You’re frustrated with a system that doesn’t allow for professional judgement. Is there any better way to reach a child than one-on-one teaching?
Why not one-on-one lesson time, instead of progress monitoring?
Again, another chance to teach is missed.
Teachers are asked, encouraged, and basically quite ecstatic to write grants. Let’s say part of the day is social networking to get funds for a grant, writing a grant, and writing letters to parents. A grant proposal is not guaranteed, which means your writing time is a gamble.
Folks, we really want the equipment our class needs, but it takes years to fund a well-stocked classroom. After a few years, the books and/or equipment need to be replaced.
Why don’t we fund our classroom and stop the dancing back and forth between fundraisers and grants?
Just Let Teachers Teach
Take away all the interruptions in a day, a week, a school year and allow teachers to teach. Watch those students learn. School improvement won’t be a hoax any longer when teachers are allowed to do the one job they trained for—teaching.
QUESTIONS: What interruptions prevent you from teaching? Do you have suggestions to improve the quality of time teachers have?
Please comment or catch me on social media. I can’t wait to talk with you.