Friday, June 8, 2007

thoughts on teaching and time management

Friday, June 08, 2007

thoughts on teaching and time management
Current mood: groggy

Today I was organizing some materials that are useful to me in our homeschooling endeavors- some great books and a montessori materials catalogue, which I have ordered from before and which is also an excellent source of ideas for materials I can make myself. In my subsequent search for hanging file folders, I came across some files of student teaching materials that I'd squirrelled away (gawd, can it be??) 8 years ago or so. There were progress reports and critiques of me as I progressed in my student teaching, lesson plans and artworks, and essays which I wrote for some of my education classes. I ended up reviewing them, and it was sure interesting to revisit some of the practical and theoretical focus of my attention at that time.

One thing that stood out to me (other than how well I was doing, if I may pat myself on the back a bit) was how very much I was having to concentrate on time management. At the elementary school level, it was my primary goal for improvement. Over and over again it came up in my critiques and my own objectives. Reading them now, I do recall what a struggle it was to manage my time effectively when I was teaching the elementary classes. Out of necessity, I was really focusing a lot of my thought and energy on working within the schedule for the greatest possible success. Just about everything else took a back seat- partly because some things came naturally to me, and partly from sheer absolute necessity. The schedule was everything, because to mismanage what precious time you had was suicide. It was already impossible to do everything you were required to do, let alone to do what you would like to do with your students. Every second counted.

Now, I freely admit that time management has never been one of my stronger points. It's still not (and I am still working on that). But even if it were, working within the constraints of such a strict schedule are simply not beneficial to the greater goal of learning and understanding. Reading these things, I was thinking about what a shame it is that teachers must focus so much energy on managing their time, rather than being able to let their lessons grow and blossom organically. Perhaps I am being an impractical, naive idealist- such a curiosity-driven, student-centered approach may be impossible in a classroom setting with so many different children to assist. But still, I think it would be awfully nice if teachers had more flexibility in where, when and what they could teach their students.

The more I think about it, the more I think it is impossible in a classroom setting. How would teachers coordinate with each other for their students' time? That and other details would become a scheduling nightmare. The only ways I can see it working are with a student-driven approach, where it is the student's responsibility to manage his or her time in order to get everything in (it is a rare public school student who would do this well, and of course most young children would find it near impossible), or if a teacher is responsible for the full scope of subjects for a very small number of students (as in a homeschooling situation). Both of these scenarios are central to homeschooling, so once again my musings on the shortcomings of our education system have led me right back to homeschooling as an excellent solution.

Funny how almost all my public school teaching experiences only served to reinforce my then-budding admiration of homeschooling, even when (as was the case with my elementary placement) my student teaching experience was a very positive one.

No comments: