Some readers of a certain age will remember Booker T and the MGs and their music. Time is tight (1969) was regularly played in the discos when I was a teenager, old enough to go out.
Time is tight is a useful mantra, though, in education, because everything is time limited, lessons, days, weeks, terms and now, after children have missed several weeks of personal contact with teachers, but having worked remotely for that time, with mixed outcomes, some commentators are looking at the situation and making statements about lost education. We don’t know how long this current situation will last.
Whatever we might wish, children will eventually arrive back in school “where they are”. Some will have kept up. Some will potentially be ahead of where teachers were expecting them to be and some will have less secure progress, with a few significantly concerning. There will be a need to establish where each child is and to determine the best way forward.
It will need an integrated approach and a reflection on learning dynamics, the link between school and home, of catch-up is to have any effect.
In Primary, this is likely to focus on maths and English. It might be possible now, having used remote learning for several weeks, to look at the dynamics of learning, to have a clearer focus on independent home tasking, maybe using home for practice tasks, with classroom looking at the teaching and addressing of evident misconceptions, with specific guidance for individuals.
It might be feasible for reading aloud, as a form of self-check, to be submitted through IT, using a phone, tablet or laptop as the receiver, to be forwarded to the school.
Extended writing could be done at home, following in-lesson stimulus and planning, with drafts coming back for reflective discussion.
In this way, I could see less argument for holiday schooling, as being proposed by some commentators. At this point in the pandemic, we cannot be secure in making any plans for a return to “normal school”.
Time with a known teacher is far more productive than time with a stranger, and I use the word stranger advisedly. Essential DBS checks on any army of volunteers, even retired teachers, could stretch some of the current systems.
Children will have missed a few topics. Deciding whether these are “essential”, given forthcoming plans might determine a few tweaks. If an essential topic is to replace another, by definition less essential topic, a further consideration might be to look at the allocation of time to the topic. Does the essential topic need to take, say, seven weeks of a half term, or could it be covered in five, leaving two weeks to offer a taster of the less essential topic? Moving away from the half term topic would free time.
All topics lend themselves to supporting the English and often maths curriculum, especially talking, reading and different writing forms, counting, leading to data and measures.
Integrating the different elements can help to free some time. How about sending home a piece of text to read, or an image to consider before a subsequent discussion lesson? Why spend fifteen minutes of a lesson giving time for consideration? Use the time to collate and share responses.
Space, time and resources are in teacher control. How they are used to support learning are under teacher direction. Time management will become more pressing as time passes.
Time is tight; to be used with care.