For my current grad class (Learning Technology through Design) I’m working towards solutions for the problem of the lack of time in education. Over the last couple weeks I’ve spent some time trying to get at the root causes of the problem (you can see some of the techniques I used here). Below is a problem statement that lays out the main causes as well as possible pathways to solutions.
The problem I’m working to solve is that most educators, at all grade levels and subject areas, don’t feel like they have enough time and take hours and hours of work home each week. The root cause of this problem is that there is an outside pressure to increase the contact time teachers have with their students. The problem with this is that it is often done without increasing prep time or collaboration time for educators. In other words, higher expectations and more time commitments in the same time constraints they had before. Teachers need more time in the context of a school day to work on grading, planning, researching creative practices, and reflecting because many good teachers burn out and leave the field in the first five years of teaching. (Did I mention how many teachers are often taking grad classes on top of the normal demands of teaching?) The ones that don’t leave often sacrifice personal time and time with their families for their job.
Broadly speaking I think teaching should be viewed as a creative endeavor. Being creative, planning innovative lessons, and reflecting on those lessons takes time. This means that if we don’t find ways to give teachers time to do the things mentioned above they won’t have the space or motivation to create and it will result in poor learning outcomes for students.
The result of some of my research has lead me to believe that solutions to this problem will vary widely. Almost every teacher has a slightly different perspective or need and this means a menu of solutions should be developed. Some ideas I’m currently pursuing relate to educating the public on the demands educators face and their impact on students, how technology can help free up more time, and how major restructuring of the school day or year could reduce the day to day time pressure put on teachers.