Teacher Trendline

June 2015: Planning and collaboration time

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Welcome to the Teacher Trendline, NCTQ's monthly newsletter designed just for school district officials (subscribe here). Each month we use data from NCTQ'sTeacher Contract Database to highlight the latest trends in school district policies and collective bargaining agreements nationwide. The database contains teacher policies from 121 school districts and two charter management organizations, including the 50 largest districts, the largest district in each state, Broad Prize winners, Gates investment districts and members of the Council of the Great City Schools.Teacher policies from all 50 states are also included.Send feedback to teachertrendline@nctq.org.

Many contract negotiations spell out the amount of planning and collaboration time teachers will get. This is increasingly the case as many states move forward with new college- and career-readiness standards for students, a big shift which requires lots of planning. Teacher Trendline covered this topic in our very first post three years ago, so it seems fitting to once again look at the trends in how much time teachers get to plan and collaborate.

Planning time

The amount of teachers' daily planning time looks roughly the same now as it did three years ago. While not all districts quantify planning time in the same way, the most common allotment across districts in the database is an average of 45 minutes per day, for both elementary and secondary school teachers. 

In Montgomery County (MD),elementary teachers get the most planning time with an average of 84 minutes per day. Close behind is Anne Arundel County (MD) with 82 minutes. Chicago gives secondary teachers the most time with 100 minutes per day, followed by Fresno which gives secondary teachers 96 minutes per day.

Of course, not all districts have planning policies that are easy to break down into minutes per day. Many districts use other specifications, like the 37 districts that give secondary teachers one "period" or "block" per day for preparation. Two districts with unique policies are Guilford County (NC), the only district in the database that explicitly leaves planning time up to individual schools, and St. Paul, which gives secondary teachers five minutes of planning time for every 25 minutes of instructional time. 

Collaboration time

In addition to individual planning time, teachers also need time to collaborate and plan with their colleagues. Almost half of the districts in the database (47 percent) do not address the issue of collaboration time in their contracts or board policies. Of those that do, 23 percent state that it is an allowable or encouraged use of some portion of regular planning time, 21 percent designate a specific amount of time for collaboration and nine percent mention collaboration but do not specify an amount of time.

Christina (DE) designates the most amount of time for collaboration, giving elementary teachers a maximum of 90 minutes per week and secondary teachers a minimum of 90 minutes per week. Of districts that specifically mention using preparation time for collaborative planning, the District of Columbia allows all teachers to use up to 150 minutes of their morning planning time per week for collaboration and Chicago allows up to 150 minutes of principal-directed planning periods[1] to be used for collaboration.

[1] In Chicago, teachers have seven 50 minute planning periods per week for planning that they self-direct and three 50 minute periods per week that the principal directs and can choose to dedicate to collaboration, department meetings, professional development, etc.