In ’64, the Rolling Stones sang, “Time is on my side, yes it is
Time is on my side, yes it is.” Well, that may have been the case in the 1960s, and it may indeed apply in Mick Jagger’s world, but alas, time is not on the side for present day educators or instructional leaders grappling with school reform. On the contrary, today’s teachers and building principals are on the wrong side of time, working feverishly to fulfill APPR requirements before finals and graduations. Compromised by a system ill-structured to handle evidence-based observations, student learning objectives, data-driven instruction protocols, and significant curricular and assessment reforms, many principals and teachers are gasping for air as they finish up the year overwhelmed, overloaded, and completely spent.
It doesn’t have to be this way. After all, it’s not a precondition for school reform that stakeholders long for the “good old days” while cursing the new conditions and perceived burdens placed on them by outsiders and higher-ups. Rather, it’s simply about making time in the school schedule for matters of importance. Time to empower staff and faculty to do the hard work the Regents Reform Agenda calls for. Time to collaboratively figure things out together to implement new curricula, data-driven instruction, student learning objectives, and evidence-based observations. Time to reflect on what is and is not working, and time to make the necessary changes to streamline the process and reduce perceived complexities. Time is the tonic that cures all.
Next year is a pivotal year for educators in New York and other Race to the Top states across the nation. With varying degrees of success, schools have received professional development in reform agenda items. Educators and principals have toiled through Common Core Instructional Shifts, Next Generation Assessments, Evidence-based Observations, Student Learning Objectives, Data-Driven Instruction, etc. However, for meaningful change and deep understanding to take place, teachers, principals, and others will need ample time to analyze and reflect on their reform efforts. Early release time, late start times, team planning meetings, full day sessions, and summer work are what is needed for reforms to get traction. The system can not function as it has in the past, and if we hope to carry forth the education reform agenda so vital to our students and country, then we had better be sure time is on our side. (We also need to encourage teacher leadership).