Over the past few weeks, we’ve been taking a close look at an important issue: just how many hours are teachers putting in, and where are those hours being spent? It’s clear that teachers are stretched thin and that there are a wide variety of demands being placed on their time. So, the question now becomes: what can be done for teachers to help them make the most of their working hours?
At Edmentum, we believe that teachers are at the heart of effective learning, and it’s reflected in our mission:
“Founded in innovation, we are committed to being educators’ most trusted partner in creating successful student outcomes everywhere learning occurs.”
This mission ties in directly to helping teachers maximize their time. With all of the hats that teachers are tasked with wearing (classroom administrator, data analyst, parent liaison, etc.) making time for the act and art of teaching—building genuine relationships with students and working directly with them to foster new understanding and insight—can be a challenge. We at Edmentum believe in education technology because we understand that it has the power to assist with those secondary “hats” that teachers must wear and to free them up to focus their time on actually teaching their students.
Two weeks ago, we introduced several major categories of activities in which teachers must allocate their time. This week, we want to take a closer look at four of those categories where we believe that edtech can aid teachers in creating successful student outcomes.
Teachers have a precious 1,000 hours per year (on average) of actual instruction time. Edtech cannot add to that time, and it certainly cannot replace the role of teachers. However, it can help teachers make instructional time more varied and targeted to their students’ unique needs. With offerings as varied as supplemental technology and apps to engage students during class time and robust courseware for fully flipping a classroom, edtech can help educators offer the right material in the medium that their students will best digest it. Here are just a few examples:
- A teacher can guide students through an integrated math tutorial on an interactive whiteboard. Many supplemental instructional programs, like Edmentum’s EducationCity, provide material in a variety of multimedia formats and feature tools that help students interact with the curriculum.
- Teachers can leverage edtech tools to evaluate data from quizzes and then group students according to their needs or interests. Data analysis tools, like Edmentum’s Sensei dashboard, help teachers quickly and easily analyze, visualize, and gain actionable insights from their student data in real time.
- Flipping instruction is a great way to personalize learning and maximize instruction time with students. In a flipped classroom, courseware is used as the core instruction methodology, allowing students to move through primary content outside of the classroom. Assignments and exercises are then completed during class time, allowing the teacher more time to provide one-on-one tutoring and identify students’ knowledge gaps. Many courseware programs include tools, like Plato Courseware’s Flex Assignments feature, for customization so that teachers can make courses fit their specific curriculum, personality, and style.
For better or worse, end-of-year assessments are here to stay. On average, teachers are spending 200 hours per year preparing for them. High-quality standards mastery solutions, like Edmentum’s Study Island, can help teachers and students focus their time on the specific standards and skills that will be on applicable summative tests. However, edtech has the potential to provide more than standards-aligned practice. It allows additional opportunities for educators to engage students in test preparation with gamification elements and ensure that learners’ specific knowledge gaps are being addressed with prescriptive analytics and learning paths. Effective edtech solutions can help teachers and students make the time spent on test preparation as efficient as possible and ultimately free up some of those 200 hours for enrichment, core instruction, or project-based learning.
Teachers typically dedicate 400 hours or more per year on preparing lessons. Edtech solutions can offer a level of accessibility to resources and organization that has the potential to streamline the lesson-planning process to a significant extent. The best edtech offers extensive libraries of materials which are both closely aligned to applicable state standards and skills and highly engaging with videos, games, and various presentation tools. Standards-aligned material is easily searchable so that educators can quickly find the right material for their lesson, and a variety of formats can help them plan engaging, varied lessons that meet their students’ needs. Instead of spending lesson-planning time on Google searches or sifting through binders of previous years’ materials, it can be dedicated to clearly plotting out effective classroom plans.
Studies estimate that teachers spend about 200 hours per year communicating with parents, school specialists, guidance counselors, and others. The best edtech tools can help make this process more manageable. These programs can help teachers manage calendars and schedules and provide user-friendly platforms to conduct and track all of their communications. Student Information Systems (SIS) can also help teachers keep track of individual students’ progress and which communications they have engaged in for each of their students. By acting as communication hubs, edtech tools can help teachers make the communication and student coordination tasks that they are responsible for more organized and easier to execute.
At Edmentum, we see firsthand how hard educators work every day. That’s why questions regarding how educators spend their time are so meaningful to us. Education is a constantly changing field, and just like all educators in the classroom, we are constantly trying to find ways to make the most of classroom time. The only way that we can do that is to dedicate time to truly connecting with educators and understanding their needs. We are always doing research, working with customer advisory panels, holding focus groups, and collecting customer feedback to refine our online solutions to better meet educators’ needs. The ability to teach is a true gift, and we are dedicated to providing educators with the tools and resources that they need to let their best skills shine through.
Is there an edtech tool that you wish existed? Or have you found effective strategies to make edtech work in your classroom? We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section!
Interested in learning more about Edmentum’s online solutions to support teaching and learning? Find out how we’re Moving Education Forward.