Sometimes it feels like teachers are stretched so thin. It’s impossible to do it all. That is when the guilt sets in. It feels like we should be able to do more, but maybe the trick is to do less? Of course, in a perfect world teachers would have input into making these decisions, but a girl can dream, right?
Less content would mean deeper understanding. We could take the time discuss issues that are connected to students’ real lives. We could make sure students understand rather than memorize. We could get deep into the material.
How to Deal With It: Start with the big ideas. Teach the most important outcomes first. Integrate outcomes: if you’re learning research skills and have to learn about The Great Migration, research The Great Migration. Make connections wherever possible.
Less students in a classroom would mean more one on one instruction and more time with each student. Lessons could be better tailored to student needs regardless of their learning style.
How to Deal With It: You aren’t going to be able to remove students from your room, but you can reach more of your students by organizing your room with guided math, writing or reading. Have students learn to work independently on tasks they can manage. Teach them what to do if they get stuck while you’re working with a student. Plan ahead so you can maximize your class time and use unstructured times like recess breaks to chat with students to build a rapport.
Less paperwork would mean more time for planning or personal time in the out of school hours. Personal time is important. It is what keeps us healthy. We are not talking the usual report cards, but does it need to be a five page document when we talk to these same parents on a regular basis? Is it the best use of our time?
How to Deal With It: Be organized. Start early. Don’t reinvent the wheel. When it’s time to get the paper work done, sit down and knock it out. Or, pair up with your grade level partner and write these documents together. This also serves well for consistency. It has to be done, so just do it.
Less extra duties like supervision, meetings or extracurricular clubs would mean more personal time and healthier teachers in general. Choosing to take part in these activities would create more buy-in rather than being forced to do them.
How to Deal With It: Take on what you can do well or what you enjoy doing. Be a good team member, by only speaking up at meetings when necessary or helping to streamline tasks. Supervision is a natural part of being a teacher, so do your part. If everyone does a little, it gets done more efficiently and isn’t that better for everyone?
Less parenting of students would mean more teaching. We spend so much of our day being role models, nurses, disciplinarians, caregivers and social workers that teaching sometimes comes second to all of that.
How to Deal With It: It can be challenging being everything to everyone, but for some of the children that come through our doors, we are the best part of the day. We have to remember we are there to teach the whole child, even if that means feeding, teaching and caring for one. Be grateful that you have the ability to make a difference-even when some days it feels like it takes your everything and the math doesn’t get done.
All of this “less”-ness would result in better teaching, healthier teachers and and overall stronger education system. What do you think? What else do we need less of in our classrooms? How do you deal with it?