One of the things I coach schools on is the need for “instructional urgency.” I talk about its importance and that I do not see it in well over 95% of the campuses the first time I visit. Yet, most every campus I visit is surprised when I point it out to them. What they have generally done is equate stress with urgent. They are not the same. If fact, as I hope you will see from the example to follow, I believe that a lot of campus stress is caused by the lack of urgency. There are a number of indicators that I use to determine the level of urgency, but here is the easiest one to observe and fix.
Once teachers start teaching, they generally do a good job of keeping the class on task and moving forward. But this creates a blind spot that hides the problem. Slowly and steadily, the start of instruction comes later and later and the end of instruction comes earlier and earlier. This effectively shrinks the instructional day. Take for example a 47 minute Algebra 1 class. If it takes 5 minutes from the tardy bell to start teaching and then 5 minutes before the end of class, everyone starts to clean up, what has been created is a 37 minute Algebra 1 class. This is not an uncommon event.
Take those 10 minutes and multiply them by the typical 8 period day and 80 minutes each day are spent in the classroom either getting ready or shutting down.
80 minutes a day, equals 400 minutes a week. 400 minutes a week, equals 14,400 minutes for an entire school year. Using our 8 period day example, 14,400 minutes is the equivalent of 38 instructional days (about 2 months).
The campuses with a high level of instructional urgency work to capture every usable second. Everyone else just gives away days.
So the question is, no matter what the current academic rating of your campus, what could teachers and students do with an extra 2 months of instruction?
Think. Work. Achieve.