Last week we had teachers and administrators from Tennessee join us on a “Seeing is Believing” multi-day tour of Massachusetts Expanded Learning Time (ELT) schools. It was a powerful experience to share similarities, troubleshoot differences, bounce ideas off of other teachers and find suggestions for improvement within the school walls. We came away renewed with more work to be done to help implement ELT in other districts, and Tennessee teachers hopefully were renewed with a drive to thoughtfully implement some new ideas.
Here are some of the great things we heard from these schools.
The Huntington School in Brockton, MA:
· “There’s a real sense of collaboration – it’s a real shift from ‘my’ students to ‘our’ students.” –Teacher
· “All of our Brockton afterschool activities have been cut; thankfully at the Huntington we can still offer fun enrichment because of our expanded learning time.” – June Saba-Mcguire, Principal
· “The initial implementation of Playworks happened because of the ELT grant.” – June Saba, Principal
The Wetherbee School in Lawrence, MA:
· “I don't think we had any direction—everyone was kind of doing their own thing and not collaborating. It [ELT at all K-8 schools at the direction of the state receiver] has probably been the best thing to ever happen to us at the district.” –Colleen Lennon, Principal
Student panel question: What advice do you have for the teachers here today as they bring expanded time into their own schools?
Students answer: “Make the end of the day more fun.” (These students loved their enrichment block at the end of the day.)
Reflections from a panel of teachers in Lawrence, MA:
· “Having the time to plan and collaborate, and to do things by yourself that aren’t rushed, is very helpful.” –Bob, Teacher at Arlington Middle School
· “We’re able to just spend more time together and really dig into what we’re doing rather than just have a short planning time where we’re alone in our classroom or meeting with one teacher.” –Math Coach
· “We are seeing student motivation and willingness to participate in the enrichments translating to the classroom.” - Teacher
· “Teachers feel that they can have deeper conversations about students’ individual needs.” -Teacher
· “When this [ELT] came in I was reinvigorated—like I was going to be able to teach what the kids needed to be taught.” –Math Coach
Whelan School, Revere, MA:
· “We have 100% buy-in in this staff that ELT is important and that it’s what’s best for the kids, and that’s what makes this work.” –Jamie Flynn, Principal
McKinley School, Revere, MA:
· “It’s all about what’s best for the kids, not what’s easiest for the teachers.” –Ed Moccia, Principal
If you are looking for more powerful practices in expanded-time schools, check out Time Well Spent.