Among our most important roles at the Wildflower Foundation is to till any rocky soil that keeps schools from opening and thriving, heads of school from leading and teaching and students from exploring and learning. As anyone who works in education knows, you can easily get sidetracked or dispirited by the many operational tasks required to operate a school.
One of our goals at Wildflower is to ease the administrative tasks taken on by our dedicated Teacher Leaders by building tools and services that allow them to open and operate thriving school environments. Since teachers run Wildflower schools entirely, the tasks that administrators do in traditional school settings need to be handled especially efficiently.
Early on we learned from our Teacher Leaders that admissions and attendance were two areas where they could spend less time. Through a time tracking study, we found our Teacher Leaders were spending about six hours per week on admissions, including reading applications, scheduling conversations with prospective parents and meeting children. That same study demonstrated that our Teacher Leaders were spending about an hour a week on tracking attendance by hand and inputting that information into digital and hardcopy files. All are essential tasks, of course, but the way they’re traditionally done takes precious time away from teachers’ core work.
So, in January we instituted a self-scheduling system for admissions, which allows parents interested in touring Wildflower schools to sign up for a timeslot online. There’s also an online application in use for the spring admissions cycle, supported by an online standard enrollment contract. We estimate these new systems are saving teachers two to three hours per week.
And to track attendance, we are rolling out a tablet-based system that saves teachers an additional hour every week. At dropoff and pickup, parents and guardians click on their child’s photo, sign in or out, and the system captures the time.
As Montessori schools, we’re devoted to a way of teaching and learning that’s more than 100 years old. Wooden cubes, golden beads and sandpaper letters aren’t going anywhere. What’s changing are systems and mindsets to optimize teaching and learning for everyone.