Reducing the Administrative Burden-In the Classroom and Beyond

By Freedman, Terry | Technology & Learning, February 1999 | Go to article overview

Reducing the Administrative Burden-In the Classroom and Beyond


Freedman, Terry, Technology & Learning


An educational leader from Great Britain offers advice to administrators on both sides of Atlantic.

New research, initiatives, reports--they're all very exciting, but they can also generate extra paperwork for the ordinary classroom teacher. Add this work to the day-to-day tasks involved in maintaining class lists, recording student grades and the like, and it's hardly surprising that more and more teachers are feeling crushed by the burden of administration. So what can educational administrators do about it? Here are ten tips to make the paperwork more manageable.

1. Start by doing research. At a simple level, this could mean finding out what different schools and districts are doing, in order to learn from their successes. At the other extreme, it could mean setting up pilot studies such as the one currently going on in Britain, involving 14 schools that are experimenting with streamlined administrative systems.

2. Make sure your findings are publicized. If the research has been of a fact-finding nature, a staff bulletin might be the best way to get the information to the relevant people in your school or district. For more extensive research projects, a relatively inexpensive way of spreading the word about results is via a Web site. This is what is going to happen as a result of the British pilot study mentioned above; the findings, including a toolkit of methods and techniques to identify and strip out bureaucracy, will be posted on the Net.

3. Since a burden shared is a burden halved, try joining an electronic mailing list to see how other schools are tackling the same problems you face. Two especially good lists are List Ed Tech (LISTSERV@H-NET.MSU.EDU) and List K12 Admin (K12ADMIN@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU). Or check out some of the links in the professional resources section at www.techlearning.com.

4. A simple suggestion, but one that will save work for many people, is to encourage teachers to use the computer to produce worksheets and lesson plans. This will make it easy for them to update and change handouts, and to share them with colleagues in a form that is easy to customize.

5. Along these same lines, why not create a set of templates that all teachers in the school can use for frequently created documents? …

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