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If You Give a Teacher a Workday

By Julie Scullen
 | Nov 18, 2015

ThinkstockPhotos-155787040_300pxIf you give a teacher a workday, it’s likely because she needs the time to analyze current data she’s been given, as well as to do some grading and planning.

Now that she has the time, she’ll probably want to use the time and the data to make new seating charts and plan interventions.

When she’s attempting to download her classroom, department, and grade-level data along with electronic class lists, she’ll realize she needs to update her password to access the lists. The computer will have to send her a confirmation e-mail.

While waiting for the confirmation, she’ll check e-mail (and voicemail, just to be sure) and she’ll respond to a message from a parent, which will require three more e-mails and a phone call.

While she is waiting for a return call, she’ll take a moment to delete some old e-mail, and in doing so she’ll notice an article about an interesting intervention strategy she flagged and had planned to read.

So, being a digital immigrant, she’ll print it out and reach for a highlighter.

When she’s finished reading, she’ll look over her highlighted notes, be inspired, and want to talk to her team about it, so she’ll make more copies and head to another classroom to share.

She’ll start sharing ideas, and her team will get excited as well. They might get carried away and pull out chart paper and markers and start brainstorming. They’ll collaborate and create new learning targets in Google Docs. They may even end up changing their lesson plans for the next week!

When they are done, she’ll probably want to work on updating her classroom webpage, with links to the vocabulary game they just created, to reflect the changes. She’ll need to update that password as well, and wait for confirmation in order to finish.

She’ll remember that she will have to rearrange student cooperative group assignments and then communicate the changes with the classroom paraprofessional, her SpEd team teacher, the EL specialist, and the instructional coach.

After visiting their offices and classrooms, she’ll probably ask you to help her rearrange her classroom. So you’ll push furniture around, and as long as she’s already moving the desks, she’ll take the opportunity to spray, scrub, and disinfect them. She’ll ask you if she can thank you with a cup of coffee, bottled water, or an energy drink. When the coffee break is over, she’ll mention how much work she plans to get done today.
Then she’ll look at the clock, frown, and realize she needs to get busy, which means she’ll need to sit back at her desk.

Sitting at her desk, looking at the stacks of papers, she’ll be reminded of all the grading she needs to get done. While she’s grading, she’ll spend a few moments crafting some parent communication. She’ll call, e-mail, or text each parent in the communication method he or she prefers. Thinking about these differences will remind her of the varied student needs in her classroom. She’ll wonder if she’s challenging and inspiring her students.

She’ll remember the instructional strategy change and the collaboration of her colleagues and hope she’ll see increased student learning. While she’s mulling over these changes and her hopes for her students, her principal will stop by to congratulate her and support her efforts in using new strategies. Of course, the principal would love to see the results!

So….she’ll start brainstorming ways to collect data in order to prove the strategy was effective. And chances are, when she gets new data, she’s going to need another workday to go with it.

Julie Scullen is a former president of the Minnesota Reading Association and Minnesota Secondary Reading Interest Council and is a current member of the International Literacy Association Board of Directors. She taught most of her career in Secondary Reading Intervention classrooms and now serves as Teaching and Learning Specialist for Secondary Reading in Anoka-Hennepin schools in Minnesota, working with teachers of all content areas to foster literacy achievement. She teaches graduate courses at Hamline University in St. Paul in literacy leadership and coaching, as well as reading assessment and evaluation.


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