I'm still working full time, but half of my day involves work as a TOSA, guiding teachers on peer observation learning walks, assisting with PLC initiatives, and other near-the-front-lines work. While this work does require preparation, meetings, and organization, it does not require me to curl up with a stack of papers to grade after my sons have gone to bed (or before they've gotten up). Having only two English classes this year will be a far different experience... previously, five hours of student contact time each day meant as many hours each day of outside-of-my-contract-hours planning, assessment, and feedback.
It's just part of the gig, so don't read that as a complaint, but rather as a statement of reality.
Part of my role as TOSA is to help with the implementation of the newly mandated Teacher and Principal Evaluation project (TPEP), and again and again I hear from both teachers and administrators that their top concern about this new initiative is not its content, aims, or potential.
It is about time.
Will this mean more time out of an already over-worked teacher's day?
How will an administrator have the time to do the meaningful work that is embedded in TPEP?
TIme is the one variable in education reform which is seldom addressed, even though anyone who has ever spent any time in a public school knows that time for [insert any endeavor here] is the one thing that would enable greater effectiveness and greater student achievement. Time to collaborate. Time to give meaningful student feedback. Time with students. Time to reflect and develop as professionals. Time to use the bathroom between 7am and 3pm. Time is what we need most.
Yet, when I consider all the reforms out there, I hear nothing about time. Rather, I hear about "high standards" and "teacher accountability" and all these other thrusts which are, of course, arguments of merit. Like Tom discussed, we want it all and we want it yesterday. Society (and policymakers) seldom shows tolerance of the sobering reality: "It will take time." Somehow, that phrase even gets twisted into cries of union obstructionism.
This year, I am blessed with time to do my homework. When I bring home a box of student notebooks, it will be one box, not three. When I collect final drafts of essays, it will mean 150 pages of student work to read, not 500. Yes, I have beaten this drum before.
Not surprisingly, I am still spending as much time outside of school reading and responding to student work. The difference is the quality of time I am able to devote...same number of hours + fewer students to serve = some pretty obvious benefits to my students.
So I'm looking forward to being a very good teacher this year. Because I have the time to.