Time is the Demon of Education



When was the last time that you saw a teacher that had extra time in their work day to slow down, notice, reflect, and have a true conversation?


It has been a long time since I’ve been with teachers that value these elements at a level in which they dedicate time to make them a reality. This reality doesn’t fall on the teachers, but it speaks to the complexity of the profession in which they work to be proficient. It also speaks to the demands of the urgent that leave the significant searching for bread crumbs of time.


How can this intellectual and emotional void that erupts from the pace and intensity of daily work continue without developing the most isolated, lonely, and disillusioned generation of teachers ever? The time crunch and the level of intensity is forcing less quality into the system, and an acceleration of quality vacating the system.


The tipping point around this conversation is often the lack of time available for teachers to innovate, grow, learn, and reflect. Though time isn’t as malleable, time does have some gaps in which we are not taking advantage. It is in these moments that we can begin to plant seeds for a healthy profession, a profession that has the warmth of sunlight, bouquet of a great wine, and a deep beauty that surrounds it. Instead, we are piling on the demands, accelerating the tempo of education, and creating a spiral of negative energy that is hollowing out the system.


Before allowing this to continue to our most essential element of our civil society, consider the following ways to avoid the demon of time that steals seconds, eats minutes, and consumes the days in which we look for joy in our work and home.


Set the alarm five minutes earlier

It doesn’t mean that you have to rise earlier, but in the slumber of the morning as the light begins its relationship with your eyes again, let the ideas of your dream flow over you for a few moments. The body can be still while the brain is free to play. It begins the day in a healthy way.


Take two minutes before walking in the door

This works on both ends of the day. Before you walk into school remind yourself of the big rocks of the day, not the to-do list. Breathe. Visualize success, and then go do it.  At the end of the day, leave something in the car. This means something emotional. It doesn’t mean that it is possible to leave the day at work, but leave something in the car.


Be efficient about searching for resources

There is a significantly large number of small chunks of the day consumed looking for, curating, and bundling resources for learning. In an era of more and more open resources, it is important for educators to have a go-to place for quality resources like Participate Learning and others that allow quick search for excellent resources.


Walk more slowly in the school during one section of the day

Energy shifts when our pace slows. Even if only for a few feet, when our steps are shorter and slower, there is an inertia that breaks, and it allows something new to replace something old. These may be the shortest time saving of all, but it could be the best life saver of all as it allows the next conversation or interaction to take on a whole new tack.


Smile at beauty and notice something new

Schools have incredible art work, beautiful children, inspiring light that radiates through the windows, songs of choirs, music of bands, and smells of locker rooms. All but the last one provide a daily opportunity to smile at something good. In addition, we walk the same way through the same halls each day yet there is always something new to notice. This attention to the little things will allow the big things to have a great focus and purpose, and when these things are in focus the time spent on them is more efficient.


Share with friends

If we all do the same thing, we all lost the time that could have come from allowing one of us to do it. Our connected world begs for shared work load. It calls for greater synergy and collaboration. We need to make sure that the best stuff from teachers everywhere is in the marketplace of ideas. In addition, we have to make it easy for teachers to “talk shop” in and around these resources. Our resources must be open, accessible, and maximize collaboration. Participate Learning again can serve as a platform for this kind of collaboration. As an example, Erin Klein, Kayla Delzer and Ross Cooper shared their thoughts and suggestions on their favorite Formative Assessment resources.


Tweet someone a compliment

Compliments multiply and give back in the harvest of positive emotion. Sending someone a note, email or a tweet to celebrate their hard work or thoughtfulness will lighten the load for both the sender and the receiver, generate the positivity that time likes to reward, and build a pillow for soft landings on difficult days with those compliments return.