We had been talking about the value - to teachers- of ongoing formative assessments (conference notes, Marie-Clay-style-running-records, observation checklists) and gearing up for some sample Curriculum Based Assessment practice before our half-way-through-the-night-break. As I shoved some dried fruit and nuts into my mouth and washed it down with some caffeine to get me through the rest of the class, one of my students asked me, "How do you find time to do all that?"
I thought of that question all the way home....and pondered that question the next morning when I was "called upon" to be "an-emergency-third-grade-substitute" all day...and smiled when I realized that Beth Moore over at Two Writing Teachers was pondering the same question!
To be sure, I've heard the lament, "I don't have time," before, many times. Yet, it seems like I've heard it more frequently lately, along with it's corollaries, "There is no time left for student-choice-free-time-recess."
This certainly is a conversation we need to have on the building level and on the grade level because either we need to make every minute in our current school day matter or our school days need to be longer!
I don't usually teach in a "classroom," but this week I did - for 2 whole days. Partially, because I was the "sub" following "sub plans" but also by design, I noticed the day was filled with "down" moments. The students were eager to read (yeah) or to do origami as they awaited the next whole group activity; however, I wondered if that time could have been spent more effectively working independently on their "country reports" or if the day could be reconstructed to allow for more small group guided practice? I noticed how the students eyes opened wide when I took a "bird walk" on a short video clip about Balto (their read aloud) and smiled as I listened to them use accountable talk to decide the risk of a traveling dog sled during a blizzard; however, I wondered if I could have had students do those "bird walks" on their own during those down moments?
My own instructional periods are most effective and most efficient when using the "backwards design" mentality, I have a clear vision of my long term, short term, and "that period" goals for my students. There is little, if any, down time during my "reading club" periods because everyone, even my youngest students, know the goal for each class. If you know what you have to do, you get it done!
Beth Moore's post this morning, is full of suggestions.