Friday, June 10, 2011

The 2,000 Hours Project & iPads

It was a busy year in Eberopolis -- so busy, that I didn't find opportunities to blog. I'm planning to change that as we head into 2011-2012, however. More details a little later in this post...

Amidst my reading in the blogosphere last week, I learned about the 2000 Hours Project. This project aims to debunk the myth that teachers have cushy jobs because they only work part of the year and get the whole summer off. While things like spring break and summer vacation are definite perks to the job, the project aims to prove that teaching is such a time-intensive and demanding job, many of us still end up working 2,000 hours over the course of the year.

In an attempt to show my support for the project (and out of sheer curiosity), I've decided to document my time for the next year to see how it all adds up. I started on Monday of this week, and I've been keeping a log in Google Spreadsheets. (You can view my log here).

I'm breaking my time up into four categories.
1) Classroom - this will include any time that I'm working at school, regardless of the content of the work. It can include actual teaching during the school year, after school meetings with faculty, parents, or students, planning, grading, etc. The key factor for making it into this category is that I'm physically at my school building doing some sort of job-related task. (Stopping by over the summer just to chat with my school's fabulous office staff doesn't count...)
2) Lesson Planning - this is time spent outside of school planning lessons or activities for use in the classroom. It can include professional reading, searching for or writing new lesson plans, preparing materials, building my class website, previewing materials, or learning how to use different technologies I intend to use with my students. During the summer months, this is where I'm likely to spend most of my time.
3) Grading - this is time spent outside of school grading and assessing student work. I have a self-contained 4th grade classroom, and this category might be a little lighter than others since I tend to do a lot of grading and assessing throughout the school day. The exception to that tends to be at the end of a term when there are more projects and tests. I would expect this category to be lighter than someone who teaches high school English, for example, but then I might spend more time on lesson planning since I'm planning for all subject areas.
4) Professional Learning - this is the category for any classes, conferences, workshops, or seminars that I attend on behalf of my school outside of the job-embedded professional learning that I experience. This week, for example, I went to a 3 day workshop with some of my colleagues to learn about transdisciplinary planning in an International Baccalaureate Programme of Inquiry. We learned about and discussed a lot of the IB pedagogy, and then we applied it to create our curriculum map for the year. Later this month, I'll attend a conference about the IB Primary Years Program. Some of these may be job requirements and others may be voluntary, but they're all important to my performance as a teacher.

This year will be a little unusual for me hours-wise in that I won't have as many classroom hours as normal. I'm going to be on maternity leave at the end of August through mid-November, and that may definitely stop me from getting to 2,000 hours. Still, I suspect that I'll generate a number that's surprisingly large given 12 weeks of leave. If you consider that the average full-time job works 50 weeks of the year and 40 hours per week, that would amount to 2,000 hours. If I work 40 weeks (52 weeks minus 12 weeks since my 12 weeks of maternity leave isn't unique to teaching -- anyone in any profession could potentially qualify under FMLA), that would put me with an expected total of 1,600 hours for the school year.

I don't expect that target to be difficult to reach.

I will be updating my spreadsheet daily, and I'll try to post more about my progress and findings each week. That will be one way that I intend to write more in this blog this year (and no, I'm not counting blogging toward my 2,000 hours...).

The other news that you can expect to read about in future blog posts is how I'll be using iPads in my 4th grade classroom. My district is piloting the use of iPads in the place of textbooks in a couple of classrooms next year, and I learned this week that my class will be one of the two fourth grade classes involved in the pilot. There will be an iPad for every student in my class, and I couldn't be more excited. Honestly...I'm normally a pretty calm and collected gal, but I really did start jumping up and down when my media specialist told me the news. And keep in mind that I'm 7 months pregnant, so jumping is especially unlikely for me these days.

I know that having 1:1 iPads in the classroom is pretty rare -- especially at the elementary level, but I'm very excited about the project and its potential for student learning. I plan to blog about the process (apps we use, student reactions, discoveries, tips) in an effort to be more reflective as a teacher, but also to dialogue with others who may be considering this route or already using the technology.

While I already have an iPad of my own, the school is supposed to issue another one to me next week so I can see what apps have already been loaded on the student iPads. Once I get that, I should be able to share more about my vision for how they'll be used. Until then, I'll be racking up the lesson planning hours as I write sub plans for my maternity leave...

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