Something we probably could all agree on is that we need more time! There never seems to be enough time in the day, the week, or the nine weeks to accomplish the long list of standards, assessments, projects, and reports. The days begin to fly by, and before long, we are rushing to finish tasks and finding ourselves stressed and worn out. Visiting classes throughout the district, I’m always amazed at what you and your students accomplish on a daily basis! But what if we started to relook at the way our time is spent? What if we took time to analyze and align our values to the way our time is spent? Throughout the month of November, our book study and buildings will be discussing time- learning to be its master rather than its victim. How can the paces of our classrooms and offices, strategies used, and the time slots of our calendar be edited to create a culture where thinking is valued, learning is meaningful, and time is well spent? I’m not saying what we do is wrong, in fact, I would argue that what we do is often found to be a model for other districts. However, this is a great opportunity to challenge ourselves to reflect on what we are doing and to always ask ourselves if what we are doing is the best way it could be completed. This message is as much of a challenge to me as it is to you.
“But wait,” you say. “I have the curriculum to get through. I have to prepare students for
the tests they will take. I have thirty-five students in my class. My class periods aren’t
nearly as long as I would like them to be. I want to give time to discussion and questions
and exploration, and developing relationships, but, well, there is no time!” The key
takeaway here is that our choices, even if we aren’t happy with them, are sending
messages to our students about what is deemed important and worthwhile in the
classroom. Breaking through this contradiction between what we would like to be doing
and what we are in fact doing takes us back to values, while pushing us a step further to
identify priorities. To do so, we need to explore our deeply held perceptions of teaching
and learning, its mechanisms and purposes, to see what is truly guiding us. If we
believe that teaching is presenting information and that learning is largely memorizing
information, we will give time to these things. If we believe that getting through the
curriculum or keeping the class quiet are high priorities, then we will put more time and
energy toward such things. (Ritchart 2015)
The Thanksgiving season is an opportunity to reflect and be thankful for what we have in our lives. Our time: another day to be alive, doing what we love, and having the opportunity to make an impact on our students are items we can all be thankful for. I look forward to great building meetings happening throughout the month as our book study participants help lead meaningful conversations.
Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving! I hope it finds you with well-deserved time off with family and friends!