Time as a Commodity

For many teachers around the country, today is the first student day of school. A new school year, a new opportunity for teachers to shine.

The school district that we live in begins on Thursday while today is the teachers first day back. Most schools in Pennsylvania only have three days to prepare for a new school year.

How can teachers be prepared in only three days?

Somehow the public disgust with the teaching profession has caused school districts to limit the amount of preparation time a teacher is given when the beginning preparation time is so important for teachers.

When I was a teacher, our first day back was a professional development day. Teachers were eager to get into their classrooms to bring in supplies, set up desks, organize curriculum, and possibly even prepare lessons yet, we were stuck in the library for an entire day of instruction on the new teacher evaluation system.

This day of professional development is less egregious because had a full week (I taught in Florida, not Pennsylvania) but we still had other things to attend. New teachers had to attend a half day training. We had a department meeting that was in theory supposed to last half a day but thankfully it didn’t. I also had to attend an AVID site meeting. All of these meetings needed to happened but I am trying to illustrate how busy those days for teachers and how they take away from the precious time teachers have to prepare for actual instruction.

In the end, I spent almost three of those five days in meetings. I stayed later a few days just to have my room set up the way I wanted and to be minimally decorated for the open house at the end of the week.

Teacher preparation takes time. It takes time to assess the condition of the classroom. It takes time to get replacement furniture. It takes time to be issued technology. It takes time to gather the books (not to mention stamina). It takes time to decorate even if it is just minimally like I did. I created two bulletin boards; one for mandatory school stuff and one for student work. I hung two maps. I hung a few pictures near my desk. That was all but that still took more time than people realize. It takes time to print lessons and materials for students.

And through all of this preparation my schedule was changed slightly. Instead of teaching all AP World History, one period was replaced with regular world history. Now I had to return some books and gather new ones. Now I had to prep an entirely new class. Now I had to rewrite a seating chart. Now I had to print new materials.

I don’t want to sound like I am complaining because I am not. I actually really enjoyed doing all of that. I was fine with the changes in my schedule. But time is a precious commodity for teachers and how school districts justify less than a week of prep time is beyond me.



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