Sunday, October 4, 2009


Time. Time is always the one resource teachers and schools never seem to have enough of. When trying to make improvements to the teaching and learning that takes place in school, the one limitation to full implementation is the lack of time teachers have to collaborate, observe, and learn. Time for planning, time for improving, time for working with struggling students, time for working with students that need more rigorous challenges. Educators never seem to have enough time. However, I would argue that we have enough time, we just don't always use it to its optimum potential. Schools need to get creative in how it allocates its time. We need to be innovative and flexible in developing daily schedules and yearly calendars that allow us to meet not only the needs of our students, but also the needs of our teachers.

Research has proven that the most important factor to student learning is the quality of teaching that a student receives. The only way to improve the teaching is to improve the skills of the teachers. The best way to improve the skills of the teacher is through high quality professional development. Currently at Van Meter, teachers have biweekly PD for approximately 3 hours of training a month. Along with the full days of PD prior to the school year and the one built in day of PD during the year, our teachers receive about 60 hours of professional development for the school year. Is this enough time for training to improve the skills of teachers to provide the highest quality of instruction our students deserve?

Recently the Des Moines Register has been questioning the ways schools use time. In this week's Sunday Register, the amount of PD teachers receive throughout the state is questioned. Please read the article and think about what we could do differently with our schedule to help our teachers receive the training they need to meet the demands of teaching students in the 21st century. It is a conversation we will be having as a district in the near future. What can we do to ensure our teachers have enough time to improve their skills? I look forward to hearing your thoughts as we look to improve our skills as educators at Van Meter Schools. Please comment below.

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