What to Do When You’re Running Out of Teaching Time

Lead Features May 19 / May 17, 2019

–Beth Lamb–

As educators, we are frequently confronted by the mind-numbing reality of, “Yes and.” This is often the only acceptable response we can offer to yet another task added to the pile.

A colleague of mine recently listed all of the tasks she had to juggle in a day.  Four of them sounded like full-time jobs and that was even before she listed her actual paid job of educating. Teachers are so indoctrinated into accepting the multi-tasking nature of the job that it is easy to ignore the actual job title: Teacher.  

Teachers simply do not have enough time to do everything that they are being asked to do.

When being appraised, it is the teacher component that is being weighed and measured, but this can be the part of the job prioritized least in any timeshare arrangement in the teacher’s head.

Multi-level classrooms with individual needs, which are all expected with individual plans, instruction and evaluations are becoming the norm. The expectation that every child receives a premium of teacher time is only growing. However, a breakdown of hours in the day versus student numbers should be a frightening reality check. Teachers simply do not have enough time to do everything that they are being asked to do.

Most teachers do not get into the job based on career and financial goals. Most genuinely care about educating. This leads to stress, and teachers want to provide the very best they can for huge multi-leveled classes. But this is a logistical and physical impossibility.

Show Me the Time

“Where is the time?” should probably be printed on hats and handed out to educators so they can save precious time by not asking the question and just merely pointing to the hat. Some staff search for the minutes by stealing from their breaks, others sacrifice their family and personal recreational time to try and meet the “yes and” expectations that are now placed on teachers.  The Victorian Factory Era would take off its metaphorical hat to what is occurring in staff rooms everywhere; education is becoming a sweatshop. Time is the most valuable commodity in today’s society: time to do the paperwork, time to plan and prep, time to mark and assess, time to indulge in professional development, time to teach and time to develop relationships.

How Much

“How much time?” is the guarded gatekeeper response to any new initiative aimed at “helping” teachers. School leaders want to know how much time they have to give staff, and teachers want to know how much time will it take?

As a facilitator driving for pedagogical and andragogical change, I need to be extremely mindful of the exchange of time for impact. I need to support teachers through shared resources and scaffolding so that the commitment is initially minimum time for maximum impact.

Time is the biggest thing that can be offered to the stressed teacher. Teachers need time back in the classroom to develop the relationships needed to teach. Through judicious use of In-flipping and Station Rotation teaching, we can claw back the minutes and seconds in the day to allow teachers to sit alongside their students.

That’s Not My Job

By carefully reflecting on the role of the teacher versus the role of a device, we can assign each their own strength. Ice- breaking information, initial inquiry/interest material, background information to make links to prior knowledge, rote learning, and many many skills can be delivered through the use of In-Flipped resources. If the answer can be “googled,” then this is not the job of a teacher –which also should be printed on a T-shirt. (Just think of the time you’ll save by simply pointing to the hat and the T-shirt!)

The teacher’s precious time should be used for learning the humanistic skills of life: teaching the “‘why”’ questions, building relationships, and coaching students on global citizenship, morals, and ethics. The teacher’s precious face-to-face time should be triaged into assisting students in understanding and grasping skill sets through active and interesting tasks. Too many teachers agonize over never having time for these activities in the relentless slog of “information in” and “assess it out” that has developed as a societal classroom expectation.

We need to collaborate to share the workload and make the most of the time each teacher has. FLGI has an emerging resource bank that is a fabulous place to begin in a time-respectful manner. There are also numerous contacts in the forums for sharing expertise, ideas and support. Joining the FLGI network is a great way to save precious time and learn from the very best worldwide how this approach can give you back the part of the job that you probably most signed up for–WORKING WITH STUDENTS 🙂



Photo by Josh Newton

Beth Lamb
Beth Lamb
I have completed Flipped Learning Level 1 and 2 certificates as well as the Flipped Trainer program. I am a Google certified educator level 1 & 2, Google authorised Trainer, Google innovator and mentor. I have a Post Graduate Diploma in Education (Elearning), Post Graduate Certificate of Educational Management, a Bachelor of Education and a Diploma of Teaching. I have completed the facilitator program for Investment in Excellence and have completed the New Zealand National Aspiring Principals Program. I have presented at GAFE summits, Educamps, Ulearn, Learning@schools, NZLA Conferences, and organised cluster mini conferences and tours. I currently lead a digital immersion cluster in Whangarei and spend my time as a tech coach and mentor for teachers, principals and school wide staff. Prior to this I have been a facilitator for an ICT pd cluster and taught as a primary teacher for almost 20 yrs.

Previous Post

It's Hard to Believe That One Simple Change Might End Teacher Burnout

Next Post

Avoiding the Top Three Newbie Mistakes that Lead to Burnout

0 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *