Assessment Insights

Who Has Time to Innovate? Part 4 of 5

[fa icon="calendar"] January, 2017 / by Dr. Stuart Kahl

Dr. Stuart Kahl

How can we find time to collaborate and learn from each other?

We all want to implement constructive, innovative approaches to education and assessment, but that’s easier said than done. One thing we hear from state and local assessment staff is that educators’ time is already short, making it daunting to create and evaluate new possibilities, much less to try new things in schools.

We’ve identified 10 sources of time pressure that might create roadblocks to innovation.

Top 10 Time Issues

Over Testing: Too Many Tests

Time to Innovate in the Classroom

Over Testing: Tests Too Long

Data Overload—Time to Process Information

Turnaround Time for Test Results

>>Time for Teachers to Collaborate in School

Time to Personalize Instruction

>>Time to Collaborate beyond School

Time for Students to Reflect

Initiative Fatigue—Time to Prepare to Innovate

This is the 4th of 5 blogs covering these topics, explaining the issues and offering suggestions to and information. In this post, we’ll cover the challenges teachers face in finding time for valuable collaborations with colleagues and others.

Time for Teachers to Collaborate in School

What’s the problem?

Typically, teacher teams meet all too infrequently during the school year—often only on a few in-service days or for very limited periods on a more frequent basis.

“One-shot deals” still dominate teacher professional development opportunities.

What can we do?

The most effective professional development is ongoing, on-the-job, and collaborative. Ideally, teacher teams should meet at least once a week for as much as two hours. They can use that time to discuss activities to try in their classes, review resulting student work, and debrief. Initially, outside facilitators for these sessions would be a good use of professional development dollars.

School leadership needs to play a role in scheduling to allow these teacher interactions to take place. (The same is true for changing grading practices as suggested under “Data Overload” in part 3 of this series.)

Time to Innovate in the Classroom

What’s the problem?

Consistent with all the concerns mentioned above, there just doesn’t appear to be any time for cross-school or school-community collaboration. 

What can we do?

A partial solution to this problem is discussed under “Personalizing Instruction” in part 2 of this series: Effective formative assessment and 21st century learning call for different ways for teachers and student to spend their time. Many proven practices can actually free up teacher time.

Use of resources outside the schools (museums and science centers, for example) should not be seen as additional burdens. Coordination of offerings from such organizations, perhaps part of summertime planning, can enhance and even replace existing units of instruction. Formative and summative assessment activities should be integral parts of these replacement units. Of course, using online resources can be a time-saver as well.

Students can be given responsibilities for coordinating out-of-school projects, with the help of parents and the support of local businesses.

State-sponsored professional development (e.g., Michigan’s FAME program) can build statewide communities of learning with face-to-face activities during the summer. Frequent online interactions (webinars) throughout the year can help teachers continue the discussions and take the place of some of the learning team meetings recommended above.

In the next and final post of this series, we’ll cover Initiative Fatigue—Time to Prepare to Innovate.

Topics: Formative Assessment, Accountability, Connecting Teaching and Learning

Dr. Stuart Kahl

Written by Dr. Stuart Kahl

As founder of Measured Progress, Dr. Stuart Kahl contributes regularly to the thought leadership of the assessment community. In recent years, his particular interests have included formative assessment, curriculum-embedded performance assessment, and new models for accountability assessment programs. The Association of Test Publishers (ATP) awarded Dr.Kahl the 2010 ATP Award for Professional Contributions and Service to Testing. He regularly publishes research papers and commentaries introducing and analyzing current issues and trends in education, and as a frequent speaker at industry conferences, Dr. Kahl also serves as a technical consultant to various education agencies.