“Sometimes we are too busy to stop working.” Rabbinic saying (From firstname.lastname@example.org)
Eduhonesty: And sometimes we are too busy working to stop to think. The many small details of daily life prevent educators and administrators from finding the time to step back and ask that most critical question: Is this latest educational strategy actually working?
After I have written my daily lesson plans, created my daily instruction, aligned instruction to test prep and graded my papers, the next week begins. After the Principal has read all those lesson plans (Actually, I’m sure he cannot be reading every single lesson plan from every single teacher. That would be a full-time job.), attended meetings, assessed classroom performance, dealt with major disciplinary issues, attended to present and future staffing, met with the Board, met with teachers, presented the latest test prep requirements, etc., the Principal’s next week will begin.
My Principal and I are putting out brushfires all day.
Often the piece that gets sacrificed is the reflection piece. Lesson plan templates usually put this piece at the bottom. “Reflection” is the box’s title and the teacher is expected to write down his or her thoughts on the effectiveness of that day’s lesson. In-depth reflection requires time, however, time that may not exist. If the box is a requirement, the teacher may quickly type or scrawl something like, “assessment suggests most students understand the main idea but certain students will require extra time. Other students have mastered the material and need supplemental or alternative work.” You can’t go wrong with comments like that. It’s a bit like writing, “Most houseplants need weekly watering, but some require more watering and the cacti will benefit from less.”
Reflection may be the most vital piece of the picture, but reflection becomes the piece to be sacrificed. Lesson planning for the next day trumps reflection. Reflection is also a strategy for the future. In this Common Core time, no one is certain that they will be able to repeat any given lesson in the future.
Big picture strategy or small picture strategy, many of us aren’t finding the time to reflect.
The cost of our haste is unquantifiable. How do you calculate learning losses from substandard plans and approaches? As a bona fide high school math teacher, I could find a method to calculate this number, maybe even a somewhat valid method. But the information would be useless. Who could find the time to read and reflect on my findings? No one in my district. They are all too busy stomping out flames.