This year as I’m adding my English classes to my calendar, I’m doing a few things differently.
First, I’m adding an extra five minutes to the start and end of each class. Assuming I follow my schedule, this will buy me some time to greet students as they walk into the classroom and talk with them in the hallway after class if they have a quick question. If I’m in the middle of something else, my calendar will remind me that it’s time to get to class — early.
Second, I’m adding an hour-long block on the day before each class. I’m calling this event “Feedback & Planning,” and I’m going to use it to build very intentional lessons based on assessment data. So, I can imagine using 30% of the time to grade a few papers or a stack of quizzes and then the remaining 70% to plan the next class based on what I learned from my students’ work. (I’m also hoping that having a designated block for grading will limit all the time I spend thinking about how much I have to grade. Instead of worrying, I’ll know that I have scheduled time every other day to get it done.)
All of these changes came from an effort to apply what I know to what I do. Based on SEL research, I know that greeting students before they enter a classroom is a good practice. Based on research into professional growth and practice, I know that the best time to make an adjustment or ask a question is when you are close to the moment when you tried, and possibly failed, to learn something. Additionally, I know that students thrive in settings where they receive lots of feedback, and likewise, that teachers plan their best lessons when they understand precisely what students know and do not know.
I suppose this calendar strategy is a version of me putting my money where my mouth is. I call it putting my time where my brain is.