Teams have the capacity to manage time creatively in order to support student learning. Because they share a group of students during the same class periods, team teachers can, on occasion, suspend the march of time. Instead of period 1 automatically morphing into period 2, a team should carve out a chunk of the schedule for a specific purpose.
Perhaps the team notices that 10 or 15 students are struggling with a research project or the math teacher has identified a group that just can’t seem to master a critical concept they need to understand before moving on to the next units. Someone says during common planning time, “If I could just have these kids for an extra hour or so, I could give them some hands-on experiences that would help them understand the concept more clearly!” Well, why not make that time available!?! Suspend the regular schedule and declare a “Rewind” or “Hit the Pause Button” or “Backspace” Day when everyone on the team takes a deep breath and works on those skills and concepts that need attention. It might be for the entire day or just a portion of it.
Think about the possibilities:
- By recruiting some extra hands to help out during this time — a special ed teacher, the librarian, an administrator, tech integrator, or parent volunteers — the teacher/student ratio can be reduced to smaller numbers necessary for small group interventions.
- By thinking about instruction differently on this day, large chunks of time can be devoted to reteaching in new ways. Perhaps the special ed teacher and the math teacher team-teach a hands-on application of a concept, and the language arts teacher involves students in bringing a novel alive by video taping a reader’s theater production. In another space, a teacher is supervising those students who seem to be understanding all the material but are missing assignments. Some students may be involved in an enrichment activity.
- By focusing on the positive outcomes of such a day, a mini-celebration of learning can be planned. Students demonstrate their new understandings and are intellectually prepared to return to their regular schedule.
It’s important that the team present such a day in a positive light. Students should not perceive that some of them are winners and that others are losers or that this time is a punishment. The day should be portrayed as an important part of the learning process–multiple paths to the same outcome for each student.