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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

More than 300 minutes



The Hillsborough school district is moving to have all its high school teachers in the classroom for 300 minutes daily, adding close to an hour of instruction to many educators' days. In this week's Teachers Corner, guest blogger Gayle Curtiss, special education department head at Gaither High, suggests that the extra time actually would be much greater, while also going against several education "best practices." Check out her alternative idea, and let us know what you think.

"The district is continuing to move towards the plan of secondary teachers teaching 300 minutes.   Planning goes forth despite the district being shown how this plan will diminish or practically eliminate, 1) effective best practices including mandated federal requirements of Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), 2) attention to students' needs beyond academic concerns, and 3) retention and recruitment efforts. The mandated accountability and compliance measures and other tasks required of teachers have radically changed over the past 10-20 years. The fact that these issues have not been specifically addressed by district personnel or by the teachers' contract in decades has also been presented. The district and school board have also heard how this proposal will reduce teachers' effectiveness from many, many teachers.

We are left to assume that the bottom line weighs in favor of these cost-saving measures compared with the research-based best practices that provide for the needs of our students.

Here is a proposal, most likely too late to reap the benefits of the district level personnel really knowing what goes on in a teacher's day, inside a classroom, and inside of a school. The school board should require ALL district level personnel who have a teacher's or administrator's certificate to give 5 of their work days each year to substitute in 5 different classrooms at 5 different schools. The additional hours (40) spent with students is a very small sacrifice. Unlike the teacher's sacrifice of teaching more periods which means less effective instruction and diminished gains, this plan places a highly qualified teacher or administrator in the classroom instead of a substitute.

Here are the benefits:

  • District personnel will gain an understanding of the planning, student needs, and demands of a teacher for the entire time in a teacher's day not just what is considered "instructional time." The sub day should also include a duty assignment and participation in a team that is planning during the "planning period" for that day.
  • District personnel will be able to experience, first hand, the great increase in paperwork and accountability demands, changes in curriculum, time constraints, compliance issues, and uses of technology in today's schools compared to the time when they were teachers in the classroom.
  • District personnel will experience how diverse our students are today in comparison to their experiences as a teacher and develop an appreciation for the amount of preparation (time) required to provide differential instruction.
  • Teachers will leave lesson plans knowing a highly qualified teacher will teach their classes and there will be no loss of intended instructional time for course objectives.
  • The sub shortage will be eased.
  • The costs of subs for these volunteered days would be eliminated.

I think it is a "win/win" situation for everyone. If we were doing this for the past few years, we would not be doing "this" now."

For more information on Curtis' views, click here. If you'd like to be a guest blogger, send your submission to [email protected].

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:15am]


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