Most teachers have some kind of time built in to their schedules where they don’t have contact with students. This might be time to do grading of assignments, plan lessons, track down resources, etc. It’s called all sorts of things. At my school, we generally call this “prep time.” As in “prepping lessons.”
The time available for this varies wildly from school to school and from nation to nation. Some schools and teachers have zero non contact time. Other nations build in hours each day for teachers to prepare what they are going to teach, meet in teams and learn together. In Manitoba, this has become a bargaining issue and the latest collective agreements are now settling with guaranteed time built in for teachers.
I’ve generally had 40 minutes each day, and for the last few years, teaching grade seven and eight, it’s been an average of about 60 minutes each day. This has been generous and has allowed me time to do a lot of things. But this school year I’m losing over 50% of that time. Due to rescheduling efforts and my having to teach two high school classes (grade 9 and 11 english) as well as my grade seven and eight students for 75% of my day, my prep time has been cut back to 40 minutes each day, for 3 days our of a 4 day rotational schedule. On the fourth day, I will not have a prep period.
I hate to complain about this. I know a lot of teachers who work each day all day and have done so for years. But this has me wondering about the relationship between this non contact time and innovative classrooms. When teachers are teaching all day and have no time away from students, I wonder if the amount of innovation that goes on in classrooms suffers?
I would bet that it does.
Prep time to me has always been R + D time. It has been time when I have accomplished some of my grading and lesson planning, but I have also tracked down and tested out new tools. Set up RSS feeds and tried new things in the online community that the Idea Hive is. So I am obviously sad to be losing over 50% of my prep time for a variety of reasons. More grading and busyness outside of school hours. But I am also interested to see the effect that it has on innovation and change in my classroom.