Team planning time occurs for one period each day in the large urban district of Milwaukee, encouraging communication, coordination, and cooperation among teachers as they design the instructional program.
Team planning time in the Milwaukee middle schools should be viewed in the context of the problems associated with large urban school systems and the promise of high goals for an effectve educational process. The team planning time process has already been implemented in the middle schools and is being expanded to the high schools during this school year.
Two of the key components of the program are shared decisionmaking and cooperative planning. The team planning period, which is part of the school schedule, encourages communication, coordination, and cooperation among teachers as they design the instructional program to maximize learning for students. All unit teachers are assigned to a team, and these teams meet on a daily basis for a full period. The learning coordinator is available to assist the teams in planning for the meetings. In addition, teachers with assignments such as fine arts, vocational education, and exceptional education may meet with teams as appropriate.
Many team planning activities are suggested, including the following: identify, implement, and evaluate program/ instructional goals; share individual teacher expertise in areas of common interest; plan for flexible grouping of students; plan opportunities to use community resources; develop interdisciplinary units; and participate in meetings with other teams for staff development and schoolwide planning.
The school district has expressed its belief in the importance of team planning time in the overall educational plan: "The key to a successfully planned program of instruction is cooperative planning by all of the staff members. The team planning time is necessary for the continuous establishment and evaluation of short and long range goals for the team and individual students that take into consideration the articulation of K-12 city-wide goals."
Each team establishes a weekly team planning agenda. Teachers begin meetings promptly and use the time profitably. The team members establish their activities for each day cooperatively and record the team's planning efforts daily or weekly. Members are trained in the effective use of group process and in reaching a consensus. The team also evaluates and reviews whether the course of action was effective in reaching its goals.
The teachers' day goes from 7:45 a.m. to 3:18 p.m., which includes 48 minutes of team planning, 48 minutes of individual planning, and approximately 240 minutes of instructional time, along with other activities that include a duty-free lunch period. The pupils' day goes from 7:56 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. and is scheduled in blocks for greater flexibility in use of time, space, and facilities.
Workshops and inservice time are designed sometimes at the local school level and sometimes at the district level. They may be for university or college credit or for school district credit. Teachers are provided with substitutes for the release time.
Milwaukee Public Schools
P.O. Box 2181
Milwaukee, WI 53201-2181
Posted on March 6, 1995