Saturday, September 23, 2006

Not enough time for...

Not enough time for teaching... to cover the syllabus/curriculum...
Not enough time to pick up new skills... to try new things...
Not enough time to reach each student... to personalise learning...
Not enough time to have professional conversations... to co-construct...

How can we use time differently?

I've been thinking about how my own use of time has changed over the last few years - both in and out of class...

In class I now...
  • offer online learning and printed resources instead of writing notes on a board
  • use student self/peer assessment to complement my assessment
  • spend less time assessing and when I do it's usually sitting down in conversation with each student
  • spend more time listening to student presentations
  • spend more time online - viewing student work, commenting on blogs and in other student spaces, setting new tasks, researching links for just-in-time teaching...
  • expect students to ask more questions rather than just provide "answers" to my questions
  • spend more time showing a few students something and then asking them to show others
  • expect students to ask each other (or seek online help) before asking me
  • learn something new from students instead of always teaching/facilitating

Out of class I now...

  • dictate text rather than using a keyboard (and more recently produce podcasts, screencasts, videocasts rather than written documents for class or other teachers)
  • use electronic calendars with meeting functionality
  • use IM instead of email to make casual contact with students and colleagues
  • walk into other classes and chat with teachers/students
  • do much less preparation for class and much less assessment

At home I now...

  • read work emails in morning before going to work - (take time off in lieu when appropriate)
  • read blogs instead of morning newspaper - (a much more uplifting experience)
  • participate in online events - conferences, seminars, courses, meetings, blogging - (take time off in lieu when appropriate)
  • work from home with high speed internet access to school resources - (take time off in lieu when appropriate)
So the way I use time has changed... even more than I'd realised...

Was it easy to change? No! There was a transition period where I was trying to do what I had always done while trying new things - spending too many hours at work and home - not healthy :-)

But I soon discovered that students
  • do just as well if I don't assess everything
  • learn just as much if I don't write everything on the board
  • take more responsibility for their own learning if I don't always provide the "answer"
  • learn just as much from each other as me
  • can still cover the course if they take time to research and present to the class themselves
Plus I have found that I can do some work tasks much more efficiently from home.

Many of my colleagues however still spend a great deal of their time preparing and assessing work while trying to read emails and adapt to new curriculum. For many Wednesday feels like Friday. It's not sustainable.

For these teachers self/peer assessment is not believed to be realistic. Taking time to do anything other than "cover the curriculum" is believed to be time-wasting. Learning new skills in IT is seen to be impossible given the lack of time...

Graphic from MS Clipart: Non-commercial use



At 1:29 PM, Blogger Sean said...

Roger, the way you run your class sounds very inspiring and empowering to students. It reminds me of this post by Harold Jarche posted by Stephen Downes on today's OLDaily.

At 10:19 PM, Blogger Wendy Zammit said...

Hi Roger,

I'm really blown away by the things you are doing!! I'd love to use your blog as an example to the beginning teachers I'm hoping to inspire to make the journey online. I'll definitely be back to look at your list again.

At 11:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perceptive comments!

At 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the internet at home is essential - should it be provided by the DoE?

When does the job start and finish?

At 11:09 AM, Anonymous ed said...

I found your comments quite compelling, but, as I notice you teach in a variety of subject areas, I wonder whether you find this approach effective across the board, or which subjects are most difficult?


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