Feb 28, 2012

But I Don’t Have the Time

In this profession it is so easy to run out of time.

In class, after school, at night. In a semester, a unit, whatever.

We are constantly battling with students telling them, “You need to know this for later.” “Get on task, you only have 20 minutes left.” “You need to find the time.”

It is the one non-negotiable. And there never seems to be enough of it.

That’s my excuse, when things get busy, something has to fall by the wayside.

As an English teacher, I think it is paramount that students read and that they are given time to read. For pleasure. It is too easy to let them read on their own, attach a project on to it, and call it school work. But time where students can engage in a book will not be found, save for a few students, unless we give it.

As a civics teacher, I think it is paramount that students be given time to know what’s going on. Sometimes it is an informal discussion of the news of the day and sometimes it is directed reading of an article. But that takes time. If I engage in these informalities and don’t attach specific learning goals, is it “wasted” time?

As a social justice advocate, I think it is paramount for students to witness the harsh realities of the world through media, conversation or connection. Again, it takes time. I often don’t want to attach these “learning” events to a specific project, because I want them to be authentic. Not something a student connects with for the unit, but instead a gateway for connection for a lifetime. But it takes time.

All these things that chip away at that precious resource. Time.


What’s the answer? If it is not in the curriculum, it should be extracurricular?

If it doesn’t have a learning goal attached to it, it isn’t relevant for that 75 minutes?

How do we fit the authentic learning in with the job of schooling? My initial reaction is to forgo the schooling, but that can’t be the right answer. Can it?

How do we create a more efficient delivery model to enable us to have more time?

How do we rethink the use of time in schools? No bells? Flexible classes? Longer days? Year-round schooling?


We all have the same 24 hours but I don’t have the time for everything I want to do, why doesn’t that work out?


1 Comment

  • A timely post to be sure! A month into class is where I begin to struggle with balancing similar issues. I find myself saving “There is sooo much I wish I had time to talk to you about!” repeatedly in my classes. Often the students enjoy all of the things you are mentioning but don’t equate it with ‘learning’ making it even harder.
    One small step that helped last semester was our class Facebook group. It was an informal but regular gathering place where we would post links to the many topics and resources that extended the concepts we were exploring in class. Quick face to face conversations between bells would often ensue and if the interest was pervasive some items spilled into class. My relationships with many of my students ( particularly with the quiet deep thinkers) was enhanced by these moments of sharing.
    That being said your post prompts me to go back and look both at how I use time and how I talk about it. We need to be kind to ourselves too because it is a finite resource, and there is only so much we can do with it.

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