Not enough time.
The problem for every principal, particularly at this time of year. During this season, it’s reasonable for you to be saying that you don’t have enough time for all of the things you want to share with your teachers before school begins. The truth is, you don’t. So, what’s next?
Many leaders do what they’ve seen in the past and forsake good teaching to their teachers for making sure that they “cover” everything that has to be covered before the year begins. A reasonable question to ask is this:
What that you share during pre-planning is actually being heard by your teachers? Of that, what is being understood? And of that subset, what will they be able to effectively incorporate in their practice?
Not to make you feel bad, but if you say everything that’s on your list, but they either don’t hear or understand, or if they aren’t able to transfer the information, what have you really accomplished?
What’s the solution? Here are some practical, real-life things you can do as your teachers return and you get them ready for the year to make this time well-spent.
- During your time with your faculty, check for understanding frequently. If you are giving your faculty a series of things you want them to know, consider:
- pausing after each item, or at least after each set of items, ask them to share their understanding with the person sitting next to them; asking them to stand up is a good thing during this as well;
- ask some of them to share with the whole group; (consider asking three of your team to share; always have a person to serve as the timer other than you so answers will be as brief as you want them)
- acknowledge your team’s processing of the learning and reteach as needed to get to understanding.
- Plan your pre-planning work with your teachers just like they say to pack for a big trip: lay it all out and then only take half of it with you. Think about it like this: if you could only share one thing, what would it be? How about two? What is the maximum number of items that you can share that you can be confident your teachers will be able to operationalize or act on? You really don’t have to tell them everything at once and if you did they wouldn’t remember it. What do you do with the rest of what you want to tell them? (See number three below!)
- OK, here’s the situation. Your bookkeeper comes to the faculty meeting before the year begins and tells everyone how to take up money for a fundraiser. She talks about not leaving checks overnight in a desk; she tells them to write receipts; she asks them to not bring a bunch of change from the penny drive in at 4:15 on a Friday. Fast forward to February. Someone has a fundraiser. It’s been six months since they were told how to do it. They do it all wrong. What is a better way to get this info to others? Videos. Technology. What if you built a library of short (3-4 minute) videos to show your teachers “How To…” do the things you’d like them to do? What if they went to that shared Google Drive when they needed to know things and it was there, waiting for them? There’s really no end to the good you can do by building your “How To” video library for your teachers. You can ask some of your all-star teachers to make brief videos on how to effectively call parents, working with struggling students, or even how to effectively utilize group learning. You can make a 3-4 minute video about… whatever you want your teachers to know throughout the year. In-Time learning is better than in-case learning every day of the week. (NOTE: these videos don’t have to be produced– they can be made with phones. AND, you don’t have to be the star of all of them (some of them you will want to be). Collect and curate the collective knowledge of “How To” do things at your school and you will have effectively given yourself time.
Good luck in your work with your teachers!
© 2018. Dr. Mark D. Wilson.