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Make Time for Learning

07 Apr

Timephoto © 2010 Robbert van der Steeg | more info (via: Wylio)
Time. It’s a precious thing and when it comes to the school day, it’s always in question. In my years as an Assistant Principal, I would hear “there’s not enough time to cover the curriculum” or “transition times are eating up my core classtime”. For all of us in education, getting back face to face time is important. This morning, I had the opportunity to listen and participate in a webinar (the first of four) regarding “Making Every Minute Count”. This webinar is hosted by Schools Moving Up – an organization that I have spoken about before. Not only does SMU have this topic, but there are many archived and future webinars and resources available. You just need to register to benefit in the amazing quality of resources that they put out.

Summary of Making Every Minute Count

With the question of “Are you considering expanding learning time at your district or school site, or are you wondering about how to effectively use additional learning time?” on our minds, Ben Lummis and Sarah Gallagher from the National Centre on Time and Learning gave us a great deal of research, case studies, audit and observation tools.

During this time of year, school staff is reviewing timetables, looking at staffing, checking the upcoming year’s budget, etc. And whether they are interested in finding additional learning time or considering expanding it, the important feature is making sure that every minute of the school day is used to maximize learning, capitalize on critical challenges, develop solid relationships and lead learning within authentic experiences.
This webinar addressed:

  • assessing the  use of time
  • recapturing lost time
  • making classroom learning time more effective

Some school examples were shared – check out the short or long powerpoint version. As well, on the SMU website there are two other case studies.

What did I like?

I came away with some research, case studies and tools that I can share with colleagues. The guiding framework for how to effectively expand learning time is quite simple and seems it will give schools that use it, a direct way to assess their current use of time in their schools.

For those students who fit a 92% attendance category, it was interesting to hear that in some of the case studies an “attendance coach” strategy was used. This coach could be a staff member, a retired teacher, and even a local community member. Another shared attendance strategy was using auto-texting – great way to use the technology that students/parents are already carrying with them. And finally, one school gave out alarm clocks that seemed to do the trick.

The checklist and discussion surrounding similar school-wide strategies peaked my interest. It was shared that students have smoother starts to their learning in class if each of the teachers that student sees in a day starts his/her class in a similar fashion. A suggestion was to have staff set up 2-3 “Do Nows” strategies for either start up, transition or end of class activities. As well, to see these strategies in action, teachers could observe each other through mini-coverage opportunities set up by an administrative team or colleague group.

The Quality Time Analysis Tool is an 8×14 sheet that works through academic support time, non-core time, and lunch, transition, homework, and homeroom times. Allocated and no purposed time is reviewed and if the staff see there is more “waste” than they would like from their initial analysis, then they can discuss how use their instructional time more effectively. Well set up and very easy to use.

Classroom Time Use Tool is a more in-depth one classroom resource that directly targets time on transitions, teacher-led learning, student work time and assessment. The example shared shows a two hour stretch of time – so it does/may be time consuming on the part of whomever is observing to use this, but it does/can give a good allocation output of how instructional time is being utilized.

If TIME is something you want to gain or assess, the above tools, especially the Quality Time Analysis Tool and the similar school-wide strategies would be great places to start the discussion.

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