I DON'T HAVE TIME
How often have you heard a co-worker say:
- "I don't have time for professional development."
- "If I could work one additional month, I may have time to learn the new standards."
- "Our grade level doesn't have time to meet as a Professional Learning Team."
- "I don't have time to join a professional organization."
- "We could get our students ready for middle school if we had more time."
- "I don't have time for vertical alignment. I can barely align the curriculum at our grade level."
- "We don't have time to contribute to a Google Doc or TodaysMeet created to enhance communication across schools."
- "I don't have time to take an online PD developed to make me a better teacher."
- "If I had more time for unit planning, I would incorporate more project-based learning."
- "If I had time to learn how to use technology, I would have more technology integration in my units."
Baseball is Timeless. Unfortunately, school begins in August and ends in June. Teachers have second jobs, serve as Girl Scout Leaders, volunteer on the weekends, coach soccer, teach children's church, serve on district and state-level curriculum committees, lead professional development, write blogs, serve as advocates for education policy, raise their own children, run marathons, and develop innovative units for the next semester. Some presenters and education consultants promote the idea of a "Stop Doing List." In recent years, a "Stop Doing List" creates a chuckle from teachers and administrators. You can't stop any of the following: Teaching the Common Core State Standards, Administering and Analyzing Common Formative Assessments, Planning Units, Attending Faculty Meetings, Watching Required Webinars, Report Cards, Parent-Teacher Conferences, Providing Students With Quality Feedback, Modifying Instruction to Meet the Needs of Each Learner, or Implementing Local Initiatives.
Is there a solution to having no time? One of my favorite videos on the topics of time management and priorities is an old video by Stephen Covey. Covey asks a participant in the audience to Identify the Big Rocks in her life. Consider your personal life and the decision-making process you use to identify your daily routine and which things you will choose to eliminate. Is exercise important? Do you skip your son's basketball game, because you would like to type three more emails at work? Do you miss your anniversary because there is a great webinar with your favorite speaker? Do you skip church on Sunday so you can work on curriculum mapping? Do you let the grass grow for three weeks, because you don't have time to mow it? Do you let your three year old daughter put herself to bed, because you are enjoying grading papers? Do you spend your paycheck on the first day of the month because it is easier than trying to develop a budget? These scenarios may seem ludicrous, but it is similar to a teacher saying, "I don't have time to read a journal article."
John Maxwell wrote a book titled, Today Matters. Maxwell asks, "How does today impact tomorrow's success?" If you look at professional development, a PLC meeting, reading a blog, attending professional development, working on a district initiative, developing a new unit with your grade level team, or scoring common assessments through this lens, you will see that today's activity is not a waste of time, but an investment. Maxwell shares more about Today Matters at John Maxwell on YouTube. He states that many people look for quick fixes. "You don't win an Olympic Gold Medal with a few weeks of intensive training." Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller recently wrote a book titled, Great Leaders Grow." In a video that highlights Great Leaders Grow, The Blanchard Companies state, "Personal Growth is not a 'Nice to Have.' It's Essential to Your Career." Are you growing as a professional or is there no time to grow?
As 2012 comes to an end, reflect on how you spent your time. Are there areas in your life where you could create more time by making better choices? Are there things that are preventing you from maximizing the time you have each day? School administrators can help teachers by creating opportunities to learn, opportunities to collaborate, and designating time for professional development. Teachers can also assist administrators by offering suggestions for supporting the professional development goals of teachers. For example, is Thursday the best day to meet? Could someone offer to do morning duty, so three teachers could have an additional 45 minutes to collaborate? Are there obvious barriers in the current schedule that could be moved or removed in January? Could Flipping the Faculty Meeting (see Bill Ferriter's article on this topic) create additional time? Simply stating, "I don't have time" without looking for possible options may hinder student achievement or professional growth. Legendary UCLA Basketball coach John Wooden told audiences, "I’m not what I ought to be, Not what I want to be, Not what I’m going to be, But I am thankful that I’m better than I used to be." At the end of January, will you be better than you were at the end of December 2012?