What if you could squeeze an extra ten minutes out of your busy day and devote them to more meaningful interactions with students, colleagues and parents?
While a school day is estimated to be around 6.7 hours, every educator knows that a teacher’s workday is much longer.
Carving out extra time in a teaching day may seem like a tall order for many educators, who often must steal hours from their evenings, cutting into their own professional development time and tipping the scales on their work-life balance. While a school day is estimated to be around 6.7 hours, every educator knows that a teacher’s workday is much longer. Add the time required for all the other parts of the job—lesson planning, providing students extra support, grading, and parent and staff meetings—and teachers can expect to put in a 12- to 16-hour workday.
Recent advancements in data analytics and artificial intelligence, however, may help teachers gain back some of those hours. These technologies offer new efficiencies and insights into classroom learning, allowing educators to harness the power of data from their learning management systems (LMSs) and freeing them up to focus their time on activities that truly lead to better learning outcomes.
For instance, access to richer, better student data can help educators adjust their teaching approach with individual students. That might mean accelerating some learners through the subject matter, while intervening quickly when others are struggling. In the past, this personalized support required teachers to cull through patterns revealed in their grading charts and classroom observations. But because an LMS also tracks student daily activities—such as engagement with content, system access, and participation in discussions—a teacher can now peek behind the homework veil to quickly gain a true picture of a student’s learning progress, saving precious time in the process.
Optimistic about the time-saving efficiencies new technologies are bringing to the classroom, we spoke to a few K-12 teachers about what they might do with a reclaimed ten minutes in their day. Here’s what they had to say:
Planning & Administrative Time
Thorough preparation and planning are, of course, critical components of effective teaching—helping educators grow and improve, boosting student performance, engagement and achievement, and saving time during the school day. Allotted planning time across schools and grade levels varies, but generally teachers are provided approximately 45 minutes planning time several days a week. The reality however, is that this time is rarely fully devoted to planning, leaving most teachers wanting far more. As we all know, many end up coming in early, staying late, or devoting their evening hours to planning activities.
Many days I use my allotted planning time to check and answer emails from parents and staff/administration or to meet face-to-face with a resource teacher to talk about various students.
Sarah, Grade 7/8 teacher
I really wish I had an extra hour to do my marking. I always have to bring it home and need to spend several hours trying to catch up on marking work I never have time to do at school.
Nicole, Grade 2 teacher
Time-Saving Pro Tip: Engage students immediately—and save time spent planning a summary of the prior lesson—by beginning each class with the question, "What did we learn last time?"
Continued Learning & Knowledge Sharing with Peers
Some of the professionals we surveyed said they would use any recaptured time to seek out new knowledge, striving for those ‘aha!’ moments and getting the most out of professional development activities.
Some of the professionals we surveyed said they would use any recaptured time to seek out new knowledge, striving for those ‘aha!’ moments and getting the most out of professional development activities. A report by the non-profit New Teacher Project found that teachers spent on average 19 school days each year in teacher development sessions but only three out of 10 teachers improved their performance. Another OECD report noted that teachers feel ill-prepared in using potentially time-saving information and communication technology (ICT) in the classroom. Only 56% of teachers received training in ICT, and only 43% felt well prepared to use ICT in the classroom, with 18% reporting high need for professional development in this area.
I’ve taken six university courses on my own time and paid out of my own pocket to supplement my skill set in the areas of reading specialization, writing and special ed. There’s never enough time to invest in our own professional development it seems.
Sarah, Grade 7/8 teacher
Time-Saving Pro Tip: Incorporate affordable voice-assistant tech—such as Amazon Echo Dot—into the classroom to serve as an interactive research aid, help with spelling, time activities or order classroom supplies.
More One-on-One Time with Students
Teacher-student one-on-one time empowers learning. It helps students learn faster, master material, and enjoy learning more. According to one literature review, the main variable in the classroom is not the student, but the teacher. Positive student/teacher relationships drive improved academic performance and learning outcomes and lay the foundation for good classroom management. Great teachers also hold themselves to a high standard of performance. They recognize that is important to build deep emotional connections with their students, and recognize that without a strong emotional connection it may be impossible to positively influence a student’s mind.
These days I have many more learning development students and those with IEPs with limited access to extra support from resource teachers. So many students aren’t getting the extra academic support they need beyond help from their classroom teacher. It would be great to have more time to devote to these individuals.
Susan, kindergarten teacher
. . . without a strong emotional connection it may be impossible to positively influence a student’s mind.
Time-Saving Pro Tip: Use an online appointment booking system such as Calendly to allow students to reserve virtual classroom appointments.
Meaningful Parent Discussions
Supportive caregiver-teacher interactions promote positive relationships, facilitate student learning and reduce problem behaviors.
I would love to be able to make phone calls to parents to celebrate great thinking or caring that their children exhibit during the day. Not only is this good for our rapport as a parent-teacher team, it gives me credibility when I have to make a call to express worry, concern, confusion or disappointment with what’s happening at another time.
Elaine, kindergarten teacher
Time-Saving Pro Tip: Organize your digital life as well as you do your classroom! Organize lessons and activities by theme, timeframe or standard—or all three. Using a cloud-storage solution such as Dropbox or Google Drive means materials are always at your fingertips regardless of your location or device.
So, if you were given even 10 extra minutes in your day, how would you use the time? Let us know @D2L.