Optimal workout

Most strength workouts are build around the concept of short, high intensity weight workouts followed by one to two days of rest to let the muscles rebuild and become stronger.

Research shows that muscles continue to build fibers and become stronger for up to a week after a workout that is performed to muscle failure.

This underscores the importance of alternating a high training intensity with adequate rest periods in order to build muscle.

Hmm! So that sounds useful. It turns out that someone might actually exercise less, and generate better outcomes. (Alas, you can't take the concept too far. I have probed the effect of exclusively "training" with rest periods, and it doesn't work very well).

Is there anything like that in teaching? Research that prizes teacher time? Research that helps teachers optimize their out-of-class time?

For example, let's say you learned that if you graded papers using X method instead of Y method, it led to

a) You save time b) With no decline in student learning (or even more of it)

Would you change to Y method?

What about a study of teacher bedtimes? My hypothesis is that nothing good happens for a teacher after 10pm. Jettison any correction of papers, lesson planning, catching up on emails...jettison it all so you're always in bed by 10pm. Let's run an experiment. Randomly choose half the late bedtime teachers. Get them in bed by 10pm. Tradeoff: being well rested vs doing less prep. Which one wins?

On Friday I'm meeting with a couple of Harvard doctoral students. Former schoolteachers. Quant guys.

We're going to try to figure some of this out, come up with some ideas to test empirically, see what we can learn. Open to ideas.

If "strength training" for teachers is equivalent to all that work that happens out of class, how can we make it more efficient? Let's end up either with more rested teachers or smarter kids, or both.

There's a teacher culture sometimes that "Research can't help me, because I'm unique, and so is my situation." That combines with rejecting research because "Teaching is an art, not a science." (It's actually both).

We hope to change those views.