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Tool: Assessing school beliefs about time

Purpose of this tool: This tool will help you and your colleagues assess the beliefs about time that faculty in your school hold. Some of these beliefs may support the use of time for professional learning communities. Others may act as obstacles to establishing and sustaining these communities. Identifying the range of beliefs about time and its uses may help you and your colleagues identify your school’s current capacity for supporting professional learning communities and the challenges you may need to address.

How to use this tool: These questions can be used to focus small-group faculty discussions. You can use the results as you plan for and assess a strong induction program for your school.


Questions to assess beliefs about time

  • Amount of time: How much time is considered “too much," “too little" or “just right” for professional learning?
  • Time as an investment: How is professional learning viewed in the school? Is it viewed as beneficial? If so, for whom? Is it considered a waste of time? When? Why?
  • Time on/off: Is professional development seen as a time for teachers to engage or disengage? When? Why?
  • Ownership of time: Whose time is it—individual teachers? Is it shared as a staff?

Note: As you discuss these questions, listen closely for statements that reflect negative or positive beliefs about the use of time for professional development and learning.


Negative:

“Professional development takes time I don’t have.”
“We’re doing too much already.”
“I don’t want to waste my time in a study group. It’s not going to help me.”
“I need to get this week’s plans done. I don’t have time to work with other teachers.”
“Learning groups are all talk. They won’t help these kids learn.”
“I’m already making changes, and I don’t want one more thing to do.”
Positive:
“We already use a lot of time for our own learning, but it’s important.”
“Let’s try this. It might help
us reach more students.”
“This is important to the whole school. Let’s put our time into it.”
“This work will help me implement more effective practices in my classroom.”

 

Reference: Peterson, K.D. (1999). Time use flows from school culture. Journal of Staff Development, Spring, (Vol. 20, No. 2).