Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Time Well Wasted

In today's fast paced and ever changing world of education, one constant in our field is the need for more time. Administrators juggle it. Students are trying to figure it out. Teachers beg for it. Me? There are some days I wish were 25 hours long, but I cannot say I think about "time" too often.

My wife and I recently completed (hopefully) a really bad stretch of funerals this year, low-lighted by losing both of her grandparents within two months. I was reminded of Grandpa's death yesterday at parent-teacher conferences when I found his funeral card in the suit I was wearing. Though few negative emotions compare the finality of death, funerals get me thinking about "time" more than I ever do.


Remember when they told you that your lesson must last from "bell to bell?" Seven years ago when I first started, this was a big point of emphasis and even today, I try to make sure that my classroom is productive from start to finish. I understand why this is a principle of best practice and classroom management.

But I have to say, I think some of the best teachers allocate their time a little differently. I've observed teachers who sing or dance in front of their class. Others teachers will spend 10 minutes every Monday asking the students about their weekends. One of my colleagues hosts "cookie Friday." There are plenty of ways to skin that cat, but none of them really fall in line with "bell to bell" teaching or something Charlotte Danielson would be proud of. Yet, by "wasting" those 10 minutes, I find that some teachers are able to make the other 35 minutes of class even more productive. Moreover, students are drawn to the classroom experience they are getting with those teachers, and feel compelled to work even harder because of the connection and relationship that teacher has forged.


When I reflect on someone's life as I've had to do several times recently, I come back to how they spent their time. How we spend time is a reflection of our priorities and a statement of who we are. Beyond our faith, our family, and our friends, I think time is our most valuable asset.  I don't mean to sound holier than thou by writing that, because I believe it.


We have 45 minutes in a class period to model skills, teach content, facilitate discussion, encourage innovation, foster creativity, and do everything else our teaching rubrics tell us to do. But we also have 45 minutes to encourage our students' passions, to invest in their talents, and be the best part of their day. We are the guardians of the future generation and we bear the responsibility for the academic and non-academic futures of our kids. Do we use that time well? Or do we 'waste" that time well? Either way, it reinforces what an asset time truly is.

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