Walking into a faculty meeting or professional development training often leaves a singular impression these days: teachers feel overwhelmed. Between analyzing test scores, planning new curriculum aligned to next-generation standards, dealing with the effects of annual funding cuts and increased class sizes, you are stretched thinner than ever — so much so that administrators often hear the same refrain, "I don't have time to teach anymore. I can't do my job."
While the familiar rituals of schools remain largely unchanged, the last decade brought substantial changes in the underpinnings of secondary education. Stimulus funding fueled an influx of technological infrastructure and the introduction of new, more rigorous standards raised the bar of accountability.
Even as the normal business of schools goes on, you are asked to do more with less.
To achieve the goals set out, you as teachers often find yourselves in a pedagogical quandary. Faced with larger class sizes, an increased breadth and depth of curriculum, the resultant tightening of pacing, and more emphasis on testing and accountability, it is more important than ever to individually monitor the performance of each student and react to that insight with intentionality. Taking the time to analyze and plan a custom pathway for each student —those falling behind as well as those ahead of the "class" — eats away at the very time needed to provide targeted instruction that might remediate or inspire more successful student outcomes. You are often stuck deciding which, or who, is most important when they aim to serve every child who walks through the classroom door before the ringing bell.
Crushed beneath an ever-growing list of requirements and reporting, many feel that they can no longer practice what they signed up to do. "We want to be able to teach," they assert. Something must be taken "off the plate."
By utilizing the data and analysis that curricular systems generate, teachers can isolate specific deficiencies and opportunities for acceleration.
As technology infrastructure improves, many turn to devices available within the classroom and at home to guide students through customized curriculum that provides real-time feedback about student success. By incorporating these technologies into the existing structures of secondary education, they create a hybrid approach that, rather than increasing their workload with "one more thing," increases productivity, allowing you to provide true differentiation at the secondary level. By using computers to support instruction, you are free to practice your craft in a way that connects them with students one-to-one or in small groups.
By utilizing the data and analysis that curricular systems generate, you can isolate specific deficiencies and opportunities for acceleration. They need solutions that not only deliver rigorous content, actively engaging students, but measure students' mastery of that content and return an analysis in simple, easy to use format.
When teachers have the time to teach, students invariably learn.
Jeff Allen is an Implementation Success Manager with Apex Learning. He has served as a classroom teacher, instructional technologist, and district technology coordinator.