In my district, the mantra of teaching “bell to bell” is gaining momentum. Teachers are expected to begin teaching right after the first bell rings and to not stop until the dismissal bell. Even transitions between classes include some component of teaching, usually a quick review of concepts. During lunch, tables get to line up based on answering math fact questions. While this sounds like quality use of time throughout the day to some, I wonder what it feels like to be a student in this era of non-stop teaching.
For me, constantly going and going and going is exhausting. I think about the August PD week before school starts where information is given to you 6 hours a day for 5 straight days. I can speak from experience that most of that information is not utilized in the classroom because I wasn’t given time to ruminate on anything and reflect on how I could use it in my room. I might think about the day’s teaching that evening, but the next day I was given even more information so what was learned the day before is pushed to the side. I need time to be alone and really think about what I’ve learned.
Do students get a chance to reflect, to ponder, to take ideas beyond the sit and get? Even if they are participating in hands on lessons or innovative practices, is there time to come back to that topic later to discuss it further? Do students feel as exhausted as I do after a long week?
I recently heard someone say that it shouldn’t be about bell to bell teaching. Rather, it should be bell to bell learning. Students are learning when reflecting on their lessons. Students are learning when they have the chance to mull over what they were taught that day or that week. Maybe they need those five minutes during transition to think about what they just learned, and get ready for their next subject. Concepts might stick with them if they can have time to make connections to previous learning.
So teachers, don’t be afraid of a little reflection time during the day. Taking ten minutes here and there could help you in the long run!