Using Excellent Teachers’ Time Wisely

With the exception of class-size changes, models for extending reach can free excellent teachers’ time—especially when schools use extra time boosters. That “newly found” time can be used to reach more students for more pay. In addition, some reach models create job flexibility.

School designers must determine the best ways to use excellent teachers’ freed time. Optimal reach—the point at which more students are reached without reducing student outcomes, while maintaining or increasing top teachers’ job satisfaction—requires balancing reach with other considerations, such as the effect of larger student loads on teacher-student relationships.

As teachers pursue and achieve excellence using reach models, they have more opportunities to use their time for greater impact, to:

  • Increase Leadership, Development, Collaboration, and Planning:
    • To develop, set direction for, train, and evaluate other teachers and staff
    • To develop materials and teaching guides that allow other teachers and staff to take on some of the excellent teachers’ duties while maintaining excellent student outcomes
    • To collaborate with teammates
    • To increase planning time for a greater student load
    • To help school leaders determine the best career paths for developing teachers
  • Increase Learning Time, Personalization, and Enrichment:
    • To add instructional time to students’ days or school year without increasing teachers’ work hours
    • To do more small-group and individual instruction
    • To spend more time on enriched instruction and higher-order thinking skills
    • Increase Influence Nationally:
      • To create smart software designed to mimic an excellent teachers’ methods for ascertaining and responding to each student’s skill and knowledge
      • To create digital recordings of themselves or peer teachers who are masters both of their subject’s content and of keeping students engaged and learning

And schools can use newly freed time to allow teachers to:

  • Increase Job Flexibility 
    When teachers work in teams or extend their reach with help from technology and paraprofessionals, new work flexibility becomes possible:

    • To work more flexible hours without reducing the number of students taught
    • To teach part-time without reducing the number of students
    • To teach while working from home
    • To keep helping the same students despite moving midyear

Using models of reach extension, schools can make all of these changes without taking excellent teachers out of instructional roles.

Time Boosters

Most reach models save excellent teachers time so they can teach more students successfully. Schools can free even more of excellent teachers’ time to reach more students using the tactics below combined with reach extension.  Each of these can save teachers time, change how they spend time at school, and allow a greater focus on students’ higher-order thinking and learning personalization:

Noninstructional Time Reallocation: Schools can help top teachers preserve their time for activities that make the most difference for students. Two possible methods:

  • Time-saving technologies: Reliable technologies for simple tasks like keeping track of grades already exist, and many teachers use these. But newer technology holds even more promise for saving time and helping excellent teachers do complex tasks more efficiently. For example, emerging technology can help teachers keep track of student progress, identify next steps for each student based on mastery and learning modes that have worked well previously, and group students for face-to-face instruction. These are some of the tasks that already differentiate excellent teachers—they do them even when it takes a lot of time. By saving them time on these tasks, technology tools can help them reach more students successfully.
  • Delegation to teammates: By delegating administrative paperwork, rote grading, and any other tasks that teammates can do just as well, excellent teachers preserve time for planning instruction, monitoring student learning, and taking responsibility for more students. Delegation is integral to some approaches to extending reach (such as Multi-Classroom Leadership models). But delegating noninstructional tasks can help excellent teachers extend their reach successfully under any model.

Homework Flipping: In homework flipping, or “flipping the classroom,” knowledge and skill-focused digital instruction is given as homework. Data reports inform teachers about students’ at-home learning. At school, teachers may then focus more time on personalized, enriched portions of instruction. Flipping models today are not necessarily used to help already-excellent teachers reach more students, as described here, but they could be when combined with models of reach extension.

Nearly any teacher might benefit from these tactics. But they will be particularly helpful in schools intent on extending the reach of excellent teachers to more students.