Protect teaching time at all costs.

Schools that do not protect teaching time have the most problems. This is a fact.  There are many contextual issues that play a role, but class teaching time is the teacher's domain.  Before we look at the external issues, we need to ensure that the classroom environment is structured in favour of good, solid teaching and learning.

There are certain fundamentals that must be in place when we talk about protecting teaching time.

 Firstly, teachers must be in their classes on time.

 If teachers are habitually late or absent from their classes, children will take over the space. This is not rocket science. There will be a breakdown in discipline because the children have been allowed to  run wild.  If this situation happens, then the teacher must take responsibility for the chaos and the waste of teaching and learning time.

Secondly, there must be a deliberate intention to devote the lesson time to  disciplined teaching and learning. 

Every lesson should be a mission to be accomplished. That should be the objective. Lessons can't be too short. If there is too much time at the end of the period, then the lesson content and learning activities were not well planned. If the children start getting restless and create problems, the teacher must take responsibility for this situation. Children will take advantage when we create a vacuum.

Thirdly, teachers must apply classroom discipline that enables them to teach effectively and help children maximize their learning.

Children can't learn in a chaotic environment. Chaos means less teaching and less learning. Chaos in a classroom also means the teacher has surrendered his or her power to the children. The children are dictating the terms and the teacher becomes the willing victim in such a case. 

Teachers set their own classroom discipline standards. The school will have a general code of conduct that applies to all the learners at the school, but the individual teacher designs classroom routines. These routines or classroom rules should be applied consistently so that the learners can learn. Quality teaching can only take place in a disciplined, structured classroom. If there is a pattern of disruption and chaos in the class, the teacher must take responsibility for this mess.

Get the basics right.

These fundamental building blocks must be in place if we talk about protecting teaching time. It is this simple. If teachers are in class on time, teaching the learners productively within a healthy, disciplined environment, then the school is operating from a strong base.  

If schools ignore these basics, there will be a breakdown of the culture of teaching and learning. The downward spiral of the school affects everybody . Children lose interest in their schoolwork and the breakdown in discipline spirals out of control.  A serious knock-on effect is that the committed, organized  teachers become demoralized and their work ethic suffers as well. 

This is a high price to pay for ignoring to comply with standard requirements to facilitate learning at the school.  Only when these basics are in place as a school-wide imperative, then we can say that schools are on the road to protecting teaching time at all costs.

Protecting teaching time means teachers are prepared, they are in class on time and they teach with a mission.

What are your views?


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