Mar 16, 2011

Accomplishing More by Doing Less

I am asked often, “Where do you find the time to do everything you do?”

I often hear from students and teachers alike, “I just don’t have the time.”

My typical response is, “you get the same 24 hours everyone else does.”

It shouldn’t be a battle of time vs. efficacy. Instead it is a battle of policy/procedure vs. efficiency/efficacy.  We are so worried about rankling the wrong person/colleague/parent, that we fail to make things better for our students.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  As teachers, if we learn to work better, not harder, not longer, we’ll accomplish more.

Too often we think we’ve got to do it all.  The rubrics, the scaffolds, the structures, the strategies.  Truth be told, I’m not sold on the virtues of all these educational cornerstones. Too often teachers think that the more we do, the more we accomplish with our students.  I disagree.

I suggest that the more we get out of the way by supporting, promoting, facilitating student-centred learning the more is really done.  The more we actually accomplish.

It is about prioritizing what we do. I suggest:

My Four Priorities in the Classroom:

1. Building relationships and culture.

2. Feedback, constant and constructive.

3. Answering student questions, if deep inquiry.

4. Getting out of the way.

That is what I do. Accomplish more by doing less.

We are trapped in a middle-managment world that wants middle-management decisions.  Let’s do away with the policies and procedures that do nothing for students.  Let’s stop thinking the answering to success is through standardization. Let’s stop forcing structured, lecture driven, teacher centred lessons.

Let’s accomplish more learning by doing less.


  • Mr.Kemp,
    I found this post extremely helpful! In Dr.Strange’s class we were asked how we would approach teaching networked students and I was not entirely sure how to do so. I think that this post is the answer. It’s especially inspiring that you allow students to learn themselves. It’s something we’re learning to do in EDM 310 as well.
    I enjoyed reading your post!


    • Hi Alana,
      Thank you so much for your comments. It is always great to hear from people and especially, hear confirmation that I may be on the right path.
      Since I wrote “Accomplishing More By Doing Less”, I’ve reflected quite a bit on the tough nature of actually stepping back. It’s not easy. I’m a University educated person who wants the absolute best for these students and I sometimes see them working their way down a wormhole. It is tough. Do I interfere and show them “my way”? That’s surely my instinct. But often, I find students find their way out, sometimes with an even richer understanding and more brilliant learning than I had planned. It is tough, but oh, so worth it.
      Thanks for reading and commenting. Good luck.

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