A Persistent Problem in Education: Time

For my current grad class, Learning Technology through Design, I’ve been asked to choose a problem of practice that I will try to address throughout the course. I kicked around a lot of ideas, from student engagement to working conditions, but I settled on one of the biggest hangups I hear from teachers when it comes to addressing problems in their classrooms or their schools.
There isn’t enough time. When we lay out the typical day of a teacher there’s hardly time to eat lunch. Most high school teachers get an hour a day of prep time and for many elementary teachers it’s even less (if any at all). So the thorny question that arises is how do we find time to innovate (or apply the design thinking process in our classrooms) if we hardly have time to grade our papers and plan for the current week? A fair amount of that work already gets done at home, in the evenings or on the weekends, which means it’s often detracting from personal or family time. It’s also not just the problem of time to work independently but also collaboratively. Making this happen more than a couple times a month seems to be even more difficult than carving out individual work time for teachers.
I’m not sure that obvious solutions exist (as I suppose if they did we would already be doing it) and I think it’s such a persistent problem that we shouldn’t avoid it. Too frequently it’s the last bit of a “Yeah, but ….” sentence in reference to some innovative teaching technique. However, I think it also might be a situation in which we throw our hands up too soon in response to seeing no quick solution(s). That said, I think applying the design thinking process to this problem might yield some innovative, useful, and hopefully scalable solutions.


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