The Beginning of Time
There is an entire page of this website dedicated to teacher time. But it is a topic we find ourselves as educators returning to over and over and over again. Maybe because being a teacher is the only career where you have self imposed guilt for leaving your classroom for 2 minutes when your bladder is about to burst just to rush across the hall to take a restroom break. Or possibly it has to do with the fact that you have 30 minutes scheduled for lunch each day all while being accompanied by a class of about 28 students that have no chance of ever knowing who Emily Post is.
Time is a teacher’s greatest commodity. So when I saw a friend’s post on Facebook with a picture of her nuzzling her newborn baby daughter captioned by “The reason I’m late for everything…it’s a pretty good reason”, I felt an urge to talk about it even more. My friend is absolutely right. Most of us are not intentionally or deliberately late. Things happens, children happen, elderly parents happen. They all “happen” to be part of our life, our very important lives.
There are two things the “principal minded me” will do if I ever have the privilege to lead a school. One is to offer a flex start time for my employees. The second is to ensure end of day planning time. If we start and end on a good note, maybe the middle won’t be so hard.
Let’s face it some of us are morning people and some are not. And what’s more we all know that person who is always late. For a season of my life, that was indeed me. By the same token we all also know who is standing strategically at the office to report their colleagues late. Currently a classroom teacher may have a 7:40 start time, but students do not report until 8:05. If a principal offered flex time so that the teacher can report any time between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m. and work the required 7 hours and 45 minutes then the teacher who comes in at 7:30 can leave at 3:00 and the teacher who comes in at 8:00 can leave at 3:30. (Of course, all student supervision must be completed before either teacher is able to leave. And there will be extra meetings some days.) I am also going to stagger start times for my office staff. This will enable an early office hour start and a later availability for office staff. Offering flex time is a great way to support all staff, but it is also a great way to accommodate our students, parents and overall school community.
End of Day Planning
Many teachers have to wait 30-60 minutes for their students to be dismissed at the end of the day. Often principals feel like this is the safest way to ensure a smooth dismissal, ultimately holding the teacher responsible for the student if they happen to miss their bus. Some teachers feel they are being held hostage at the end of the day. Providing a central location for students to gather while waiting to be dismissed will free up teachers from direct supervision and add back that 30-60 minutes in bona fide planning time each day. Teachers can be assigned one week each quarter to help facilitate dismissal from a central location giving them the rest of the quarter for true planning time in return.
Things like this that may see insignificant to the one running the school are actually points of opportunity to help build a climate of mutual respect among the ones working the front lines. You know that saying “When momma aint happy, aint nobody happy”? It’s the same at school. If the teachers aren’t happy, then no one is going to be happy, not the students and definitely not the administration. Take the time to make these incremental changes to show your teachers you value them and you value their time.
This is the beginning of time…which I feel certain is a topic I will return to “time and time again”. 😉