A couple of school districts in Minnesota are experimenting with giving up classroom time in favor of more time for teachers to collaborate, examine student data and tailor instruction to meet students’ individual needs. 

Classroom TimeLast summer, school Superintendents Jane Berenz and Jay Haugen had a tough idea to sell to parents.

As educators across the nation pushed for elementary students to spend more time in school, Berenz and Haugen had to convince parents that less time would be beneficial — even though Minnesota trails many states in time students are required to spend with a teacher.

Their sales pitch was that the quality of instructional time is more important for elementary students than the quantity. Farmington, the district Haugen leads, gave up two school days and Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan, Berenz’s district, cut five to give teachers more time to gather and analyze data about their elementary students.

Before the start of school, teachers spent one-on-one time with elementary students collecting information about their skills. That data would be used throughout the year to improve teachers’ instruction.

It was a worthwhile sacrifice for Berenz and part of a district initiative to tailor instruction to each student.

“I’m a firm believer in investing in teachers and their training,” Berenz said. “We hold this time very dear to us.”

CONTINUE READING Who Benefits From More Or Less Classroom Time?

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