Expanding Time, Opening Minds

This is a guest post from NCTL's Manager of the Massachusetts Expanded Learning Time Initiative, Emily Raine.

Over the past five weeks, 75 teachers and administrators from schools across Massachusetts have come together for four full days to talk, think, dream - even argue a bit - about expanding learning time. These schools are considering expanding learning time beginning in the 2012-2013 school year, as part of the Massachusetts ELT Initiative.

Taking the time to step away from the hustle and bustle of school to consider a fundamental redesign of the school day and year is invaluable. Again and again, we hear from ELT planners that to use time more effectively in their schools, they need – you guessed it – TIME. “We never have time for this kind of conversation during a typical day,” explains one principal. “Having time to collaborate is the best part of this process.”  They are using this time together to brainstorm and refine and revise and tweak, to consult with other schools and share ideas, and to consider the many questions they have about expanding their school schedule.
And these intrepid ELT planners are asking all the right questions, like: “Could we rethink the entire school day and year? How could we use existing time more efficiently? How could expanding time benefit our students, our teachers, our community? In the end, does expanding learning time make sense for our school?” By asking these questions of each other and their colleagues back at school, they have started a critical conversation in their communities about learning time – and are helping others understand they don’t have one minute to waste.