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WORKING SMARTER, NOT HARDER


by providing opportunities to interact with the content in different ways as well as to develop greater independence as problem solvers. Moreover, Ms. Palmer would undoubtedly benefit from having more energy and time to devote to her teaching and family.


Conclusion We first came to the concept of sustainability out of concern for teacher well-being; we have sensed increasing stress levels in many of the schools with which we work. Although there are inevitably some less motivated teachers out there, we believe that most teachers are dedicated to their jobs and are expending great amounts of time and energy in the service of their students. We doubt that simply trying to work harder will yield the desired results, and we do not want good teachers to be logs burned up in a “doing more with less” fire.


We do not mean to diminish the challenges of the present; these are trying times. Doing more with less is not going to be easy. It may well be impossible if the “doing more” just means teachers doing more work. Nonetheless, teachers do not have to be mere helpless victims of shrinking school budgets. Teachers do have the opportunity to change how they approach teaching. They must conserve their time and energy by focusing on important learning goals and not tire themselves out with peripheral or tangential matters. They need to ensure they are holding students accountable for contributing to the organizational and intellectual work of the classroom. And they should be pragmatic in their creation of curriculum and materials, developing renewable resources, while also taking advantage of their colleagues’ expertise and existing resources related to their content.


As we have thought more about what sustainable teaching entails, we have come to realize different ways it benefits students as well. Surely having less stressed and more enthusiastic teachers provides benefits to students. Our youth need to see adult role models who are able to balance the demands in their lives. Sustainable teaching practices may yield courses that are more tightly focused on clear learning goals and feel more purposeful to students. Finally, there is hope for better results from our schools if sustainable teaching practices result in students doing more of the work in the classroom. Teachers working smarter, not harder, is what our schools, teachers, and students truly need.


References


Bonwell, C., & Eison, J. (1991). Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 1. Washington, D.C.: Jossey-Bass.


Covey, S. (1989). The seven habits of highly effective people. New York: Simon and Schuster.


50


Virginia Educational Leadership


Vol. 8 No. 1


Spring 2011


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