One of the many questions I often receive is how teachers can find the time to integrate. In fact, a week or so ago, I posed the question on our Facebook page about what was the biggest challenge to integration that you are facing. Here’s one of the answers:
Charlene brings up a wonderful point. Not only how do you find time to plan, but how do you develop a system that makes that a bit easier on your overall time with integration? Here are 5 easy ways to make more time for integration:
1. Treat it like an Investment. The first way to make more time for integration is to view it as an investment in you and your students. That does a couple of things. First, it suddenly shifts planning and learning more about integration a priority. And when things are a priority, they get done. Second, by treating integration planning and professional development like an investment, you’re acknowledging it’s a long-term endeavor that will produce bigger dividends the longer you stick with it. This powers all the other steps in this process!
2. Diversify. Any good investment advisor will tell you to diversify your portfolio. Developing a culture of integration in your classroom or school is no different. You’ll want to diversify where you place your efforts so that if you don’t see returns right away in one area, you’re getting bang for your buck in other places. In integration, this looks like spending your time curriculum mapping, writing lessons, taking professional development on integration, starting a book club, developing rubrics, learning some arts skills and strategies, and creating a studio culture.
3. Sock it away. Remember the proverbial “money under the mattress”? There’s a reason our grandparents were more prepared than our parents for retirement. Because they knew the benefits of saving. The same holds true for our Integration initiatives. Write a great lesson plan? Create a lesson plan bank for your classroom, school or district that houses integration lessons developed over the course of the school year. This way, you won’t have to reinvent the wheel next year.
Learn some exciting new strategies or arts skills from your professional development or the Connectivity Conference 2013? Start a school blog and post your new knowledge there or put it on a flashdrive that you can share with others in your building or district. There are so many ways to save great ideas, lessons, assessments, and strategies – it will save you time in the long run if you post them now.
4. Create and Commit to an Appointment. It’s just like tax time every year when you make an appointment to see your accountant or set aside a weekend to work on your taxes. You wouldn’t break that appointment with a deadline looming, would you? The same could be said for integrated planning. As a team or school, figure out what kind of integrated planning works for you. Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? Set the days/times up in advance and then stick to them. This takes the stress away of not knowing when you’ll have time to plan because it is built in.
5. Be Prepared. Just like your investment advisor tells you, be sure to bring all your paperwork. For integration, this means coming to your planning meetings with an agenda already prepared so that you know exactly what goals you need to accomplish (standards alignment, quarterly objectives, creating authentic assessments, lesson planning, etc). Don’t bring extraneous items to your meetings and honor your start and end times. It’s amazing how much you can get done if each member comes to the table ready to get to work.
Hopefully, these 5 tips will help you to manage your integration efforts with ease. Even if you just accomplished one or two of the tips above, the impact on your time will lessen tremendously because you have a game-plan. Have any other ideas that have worked for you? Share them below and be entered to win a FREE set of Integrated Common Core Curriculum Maps from my new book, STEAM Point. The winner will be announced next Wednesday! Good luck!
Susan Riley is the founder and President of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and Arts and the Common Core.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.