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The major happening this week at the school district was that our juniors (and some seniors) took the HSPA. The HSPA stands for High School Proficiency Assessment and it is the standardized testing tool used in the state of New Jersey; without passing, a student will not be recommended for graduation. In the case of our district, we administer the test to juniors in case students fail, they can take the exam again in the next school year. As in any other year, our administrators made a fuss over the test and the school as a whole made the necessary accommodations for our students so that they would have the best opportunity for success on the exam. The test was separated into 3 parts and students took each part on a separate day: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Usually, whenever we have days where a group of students are testing, our principal always calls on teachers to assist with proctoring or monitoring the halls or covering a class or something. On Tuesday morning, I figured I would be proactive and ask my principal if she would need me to assist in any way during the week. The response that she gave me was one of the greatest gifts I could ever ask for.
Moment of the Week
She said, “Nope, we have everything covered, so you have some free prep-time.” I literally wanted to cry, jump for joy and run through the building at the same time. I use to believe that money was the most precious resource but I am learning that time may actually be the most precious of resources in the human experience. I don’t have enough all the money that I would need to be comfortable, but I manage well with what I have. But more than money, I wish I had more time to do everything that I want to do. As a teacher, I never have enough time and it seems that administrators fail to remember that a teacher’s time is just a precious as their own.
My day consist of 9 periods; I teach for 6 of them, I have 1 prep period, 1 duty period and 1 period for my own lunch. One of my classes and my duty period were suspended, so I had an additional 2 periods where I could do something that my school doesn’t allow us to do, yet mandate us to do: paperwork. I was able to grade a few assignments, create a few assignments, read up on some information for my lessons, contact a couple of parents, and write a recommendation for my mentee. Even better, having the extra time to get some work done helped keep me fresh with the other classes I had to teach and also, I was able concentrate a bit more on enjoying my time at home with my family. Although it was only three days, it meant the world to me because as a teacher, my time is very important and whenever I can use my time for something productive rather than waste it, I am a better all around person; both inside and outside of the classroom. I am sure that I am not the only teacher who feels that way. I am sure there were a few teachers in my building who were able to make the best use of their “free” preps as well.
Lesson of the Week
One day, I’ll move on from the teacher’s desk to the principal’s chair. One of the things that I was reminded of was the fact that teachers need time… time to prepare, time to assess, time to think, time to execute, time to decompress, time to reflect, time to restore themselves. Much of the time in school, teachers are pulled in many directions. We’re teaching in class, we have meetings with parents, we have staff meetings, we are involved in pointless meetings, pointless professional development at times, we have lunch duty, we have study hall duties, we cover classes… grading papers, creating lessons and lesson plans, calling parents, reading for new knowledge; most of these activities take place at home. Home is the place where we are suppose to attend to our families and meet the needs of our households. I understand that many individuals bring their work home often, but the majority of paperwork for teachers is done at home. In my humble opinion, teachers should be given some time during the school day to get some work done… more than a 40 minute period.
I have an idea for administrators to make this happen. Usually, school districts have professional development days… maybe once or twice a month for the faculty. My suggestion, if schools and districts don’t already do this, would be to create a staggered schedule where a set amount of teachers attend professional development while others receive the opportunity to have an elongated “prep-period.” They could then get some work done that they would otherwise do at home, taking them away from spending time with their families. In a perfect world, teachers would get 1 full prep-day a week, but PD days only would be a welcomed start. I’ll be sure to keep that in mind when I become an administrator… but I need an administrator to put that idea in their mind now.