Teacher Quality and Time

In the publication we released last year, Time for Teachers, we wrote of the monumental change taking place within the teaching profession now. An intense focus on accountability to high standards, along with shifting demographics within the teaching corps, have combined to make the profession one that is much more focused on continually honing one’s craft.  This willingness to embrace continuous improvement has, in my estimation, reached new levels of intensity.

Along with this shift, a number of independent organizations have arisen over the last few years which very much reflect this ethos of turning teaching from a relatively static career to one that is most decidedly dynamic. These organizations include Teach Plus, which engages teachers in the work of developing policy mechanisms to better support teaching and learning, and Better Lesson, a collaborative of master teachers who have together designed thousands of high-quality lessons in ELA and math.

One of the first of these organizations to hop on the scene is the Center for Teacher Quality, an outfit in Carrboro, North Carolina founded by famed educator Barnett Berry. The mission of CTQ is simple: connecting teachers across the country to each other so that they can learn from each other and commit themselves together to improving student learning. To enable this connection, CTQ created, among other things, the “Collaboratory,” an online community of teacher learners, and a whole host of resources all centered on the idea that teaching is best when they can figure for themselves out how to align their instruction to student needs.

One of the newest set of resources to join the family is one that is especially close to our hearts here at NCTL. The “More and Better Learning Time” toolkit was developed by 80 teachers from Massachusetts and Colorado who scanned the country to find the best available examples and research and practitioner instruments of using more time wisely and well.  We appreciate very much that the site includes a number of items produced by NCTL including our time tracker tools, the School Time Analysis Tool (STAT) and the Classroom Time Analysis Tool (CTAT), as well as a few of our publications.  But even more exciting is the large number of resources created by others, including case studies and additional tools to track time use in schools. The fact that so many others have come to focus on the matter of time spent in school adds yet more proof that school time—and getting more of it—is of central concern to an increasingly large swath of educators.

In fact, I might even conclude that this new site represents just the kind of overlap of agendas that we had suggested in Time for Teachers. Namely, the movement to improve instruction and the drive of teachers to become ever more skilled at their jobs is inextricably bound up with the movement to build in more learning time in schools—not just learning for students, but for teachers as well. Time is, simply put, the opportunity creator and if teachers are seeking more opportunities to grow as professionals, a longer school day and year are absolutely necessary. As the Center for Teacher Quality makes clear, you can’t improve teacher quality without providing more quantity, as well.  Here’s hoping that the site gets lots of use, inspiring countless educators to fight for more time for their students and themselves.