Michael Linsin blogged about “Why Staying Late After School Is A Mistake” and many teachers are embracing it. It was shared on one of my FB groups for teachers.
I replied that I believe that exchanging a few dollars for carefully selected activities from TeacherspayTeachers (TpT) helps many of us to balance excellent lesson planning with our other parts of our lives. While I am a small seller on TpT, I am a bigger customer, saving all kinds of time by using another teacher’s creativity in my classes.
I believe that TpT levels the playing field for inexperienced teachers to easily have experienced teachers’ class activities.
But, upon a second reading of Mr. Linsin’s blog, there is a “smug blaming the teacher” tone that needs to be addressed before teachers add further guilt onto their current guilt for working long hours.
In my opinion, Mr. Linsin puts down teachers by painting us with a broad brush of “First, most teachers prepare inefficiently. They get distracted. They meet with colleagues more than they need to. They visit and chat and don’t always get down to work. . . .Second, many teachers struggle with what, exactly, they need to plan and how to go about it. So they sit and ponder. They start and stop. They fill the time with busy work instead of productive work. They end up with lessons that are bloated and directionless and that students struggle to understand.”
This negativity is demeaning even though it may lead us to be better teachers if we buy his book.
Mr. Linsin doesn’t differentiate between his status as a veteran teacher with 26 years in the classroom and a new teacher.
He doesn’t differentiate between a Spanish teacher teaching one section of Spanish One five times a day and a Mandarin teacher teaching Mandarin 1, Mandarin 2, Mandarin 3, Mandarin 4 and Mandarin AP.
He doesn’t differentiate between a math teacher who uses scantrons to score tests and an English teacher with an unending stream of essays to grade.
He doesn’t distinguish between teaching the same subject year after year versus always having a new class to prep.
He doesn’t differentiate between working in a school district that provides updated curriculum support with technology and workbooks that students can write in/and or 1:1 versus a school district that hasn’t updated the language texts in 15 years and all worksheets must be run off by the teacher with no support from parent helpers or aides.
He doesn’t distinguish between preparing for a class of motivated students who can work independently and a huge class of wide abilities including many IEPs, 504s and undiagnosed emotional needs where you must script the class minute by minute or else the students will create mayhem during transitions and down time.
For these kinds of classes, investing time in your lessons keeps students engaged and avoids referrals, avoids talking to parents, avoid increasing discipline paper trails and relieves stress. Five minutes of class time can feel like an eternity when a boring lesson puts students off task.
At a time when I don’t recognize my country’s acceptance of selfishness, I still believe in the sanctity of creating a community.
If a students need legitimate help during my prep period, then they get it. If our school needs someone to arrange for career day for our students, I’ll pitch in and have to put in work on tomorrow’s lesson later that evening. If students applying to colleges need letters or recommendation, then I will take the time to meet with the students and write a thoughtful letter.
Because if I become a 8 – 3 teacher who grades papers, plans lessons, responds to parents, inputs grades, updates IEPs, during one 45 minutes slot each day, then I probably deserve to be replaced with distance learning and an aide in the classroom as many of my colleagues are being “replaced” with Rosetta Stone.
Let’s separate the wheat from the chaff. Let’s take a good look at where we do waste time and make better choices. But let’s not support the convenient belief that schools are just businesses, teachers just work 8 – 3 and have summers off.
We are better than that.
Our students deserve better, and our country’s future is counting on us to be better.