Spring 2017

ATPE News is the official publication of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, the largest educator association in Texas. The magazine addresses the most important issues affecting public education in the state. Learn more at

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Page 21 of 43

E ducators repeatedly stated that quality instruction time — more time teaching — is what matters most to a student's learning. Teachers end up with less time dedicated to teaching and learning when forced to spend too much time on other responsibilities, like filling out mounds of paperwork, managing large classrooms, and taking attendance. Texas Educator: "I bet you think I need more money, and I do, but it's not at the top of my list. And I bet you think I need new technology, and trust me, an iPad for ev- ery student would be great, but it's not at the top of my list. You know what I need? Time. Give me more time spent on actual instruction and I'll show you a school that's been turned around. You know what I do? I have my office take on as much of the teachers' paperwork as possible. Anything we can do to lighten the load, we do it. You know why? MORE TIME! Teachers get to teach. Simple." R eporting and compliance duties often come along with grants, academic improvement programs, and data collection. Well-intentioned regulations can take away instruction time if the logistics at the district and campus level are not properly considered by the state. Texas Educator: "You guys [the Texas Legislature] give us so much to do, but don't tell us how or when. You want fire drills for school buses, good idea, now tell me how to do it and when. What am I going to have to cut? We always have to ask ourselves these questions. These days, if I can get my teachers to spend 3 ½ hours on instruction a day, it's a win." C o-teachers, social workers, behavioral health profes- sionals, and additional staff can all take burdens off educators and allow them to spend more time teaching. If students arrive in the classroom well-fed, well-rested, housed, clothed, cared-for, and ready to learn, teachers automatically gain more quality teaching time. Educators across districts asked for the ability to hire additional support staff to provide these wraparound services. G ood teachers, and excellent leadership, are important at every campus, but students and campuses with the most challenges require the best help. From a policy per- spective, when advocating for the "best" teachers, it is difficult to define with specificity what that is, although the consensus is that experience is a common quality. Overall, principals and other teachers know talent when they see it and need the flexibility and authority to hire those educators. Texas Educator: "If I had to choose between an iPad for every student or a few more top notch teachers, I would take the teachers in a heartbeat, every time." A lthough the responses from educators varied in terms of priority, in almost every way possible, ed- ucators noted that generally the resources for English language learners and special education students were insufficient. From the dearth of certified teachers, in- structional materials, and test preparation to class size and accountability, educators at nearly every campus lamented the general inadequacy in resource availability and quality. Texas Educator: "These students are capable. They can do the work, it's just their English that's the challenge. In every other way they're on top of their game, just as gifted, and it feels like we're punishing them. We're failing them, really." Find ways to fit more quality instruction time into a school day. Districts and schools need the freedom to hire more support staff. Programs meant to help schools shouldn't burden them. Provide incentives for hiring exceptional teachers. Resources should be commensurate with the size of the student population and what the state expects of them. Read about ATPE's legislative priorities at legislative-priorities 22 ATPE NEWS

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