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Finding time to support PLC’s

Purpose of this resource: This resource provides examples of how schools and districts have organized time to support teachers’ professional learning. It identifies six different strategies for organizing time and examples of how schools and districts have used each strategy to support teachers’ professional learning.

How to use this resource: You and your colleagues can use the strategies and examples to find and organize time for beginning and mentor teachers' study groups in your school. You can also use them to develop ways to organize time for mentoring. Click on the “Example” link after each strategy to find sample school schedules and descriptions of how schools/districts have employed the strategy.

1. Bank time

  • Lengthen the regular school day. Use the extra minutes to create larger blocks of time for teachers to work, plan and learn together.
  • Regularly schedule early dismissal/late start days.
  • Shorten lunch periods and use “saved” time to build extended time for teacher collaboration.

Banking time examples

2. Buy time

  • Hire more personnel (teachers, clerks, support staff).
  • Hire substitute teachers to fill in for teachers.
  • Add an extra teaching position for a rotating substitute who can regularly fill in for classroom teachers.
  • Create a “substitute bank” of well-trained substitute teachers in order to free teachers to work and learn together.

Buying time examples

3. Common time

  • Use common planning time for teachers who share the same students or who teach the same grade level or subject matter.
  • Organize “specials” into blocks of time to create common planning time for teachers.
  • Link planning time to non-instructional times (i.e. lunch periods, recess) to expand time for teacher collaboration.

Common time examples

4. Free teachers from instructional time

  • Enlist administrators to teach classes.
  • Authorize teaching assistants and/or college interns, under the direction of a teacher, to teach classes at regular intervals.
  • Group teachers into teams to enable one teacher to plan/work while the other teaches students.
  • Create day-long, off-site educational experiences for students to create time for teachers to collaborate.

Freeing teachers from instructional duties examples

5. Add professional days to the school year

  • Create multi-day summer retreats for teachers.
  • Create a mid-year break for students to enable teachers to work together.

Adding professional days examples

6. Use existing time more effectively

  • Use existing staff meetings for professional learning.
  • Spread time from district planning days across the calendar to create more time for school-based professional development.

Using existing time examples

Watts, G., & Castle, S. (1993). The time dilemma in school restructuring. Phi Delta Kappan, vol.75, no. 4, 306-310..

Miles K.H.. (1995). Freeing resources for improving schools: A case study of teacher allocation in Boston public schools. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 17, 476-493.