Saturday, August 20, 2011

Planning extra opportunity to show your students you care.

If you're a teacher, you are well aware of the value of your time. The average school day is packed with routines and unexpected, yet expected interruptions. In an attempt to keep teachers as sane as possible - a difficult feat in and of itself - we are awarded a well-deserved "break time". Technically the "break time" is referred to as "planning time". This "ideally" (I apologize for the repetitious use of quotation marks but feel they are necessary) is time used for planning instruction. What it ends up becoming is time for conferences with parents, meeting with the team about mandated information, going to the bathroom, dealing with a discipline issue that happened earlier, and the list goes on.

Now, I'm speaking based on my opinion, and I'm not exactly the most organized person in the world, but I think this holds true for most teachers. Though, as much as I could complain about not having enough time to plan, when I do have the time, the last thing I want to do is sit in my classroom and actually plan. Let me explain. In my school this time is called "connections" for the students. They go to Art, P.E., Band, Chorus, Health, and much more. Our connections teachers are awesome! They really challenge the students and create interesting projects for them to work on. I've found this out by poking my head in from time to time to see what they are doing. And because they are always doing cool things, I'm curious, and thus often spend more time observing.

What I've found happens in that time is quite extraordinary, yet very simple. The kids always seem to be proud to show me what they are working on, and, to be honest, so are the teachers! I even like to pitch in and help out when I visit. Recently, I spent my entire planning time visiting the different connections. I enjoyed short conversations with my fellow teachers and the students, and feel as though I built stronger relationships with both during the process.

When I returned to my classroom to prepare for my fifth period class that day, for a moment I felt as though I wasted my entire planning time. I then quickly reflected on my experience, which in turn put a smile on my face and a pleasant mood in my heart. And when my students filed in for class, I was motivated and inspired to provide them with an excellent experience. I guess I accomplished much more than I orginally thought! My planning time was spent showing my students I care, and in return, I reassured myself that I do!

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