“I never have enough time to … ”

I know there is general angst amongst teachers that there is never enough time – never enough time to cover the curriculum demands, never enough time to feel like we are doing justice to our ideals.  I know this is a reality.  It is a reality that is perhaps having a negative effect on our students.

The theme of time is often mentioned.  Henrietta Miller wrote of always rushing, starting from personal experience with her son then considering the classroom.  Watching the video Deadlines, highlights how important time can be in the creative and learning process.

Not long ago, I was placed in the position where I had to prepare something creative in a short period of time.   I found the time constraint paralysing.  I must note that there were many others given this task and they produced amazing results under the pressure of the time limit.    I was not one of them: my learning style wanted me to have time to go away, consider, tinker and then produce.   Obviously the adrenalin of a short-time frame can be positive for some, but I suggest not for all and definitely not all the time.

It made me think about the children in our classrooms who face similar situations. Do we treat them fairly when we prescribe quite tight timelines? I know some of our students have told us that they get annoyed when they are asked to move on to another task, just because the timetable says it is time to move on. I know this leads to many practical difficulties when accountability and schedules are pressing on our minds, however we can make adjustments. Henrietta says “…since I know that it is the learning that counts not the finished product. I reflect that I must find time for them to enjoy the process even if we have no product”.  There are times in our lives when we do have to adhere to deadlines, work to the clock, but I think we could be doing things better.

Richard Olsen of Ideas lab says learning should be – “self-directed, inquiry based and socially constructed” and I agree with him.   In my mind this automatically means we need to free students and teachers of some of the time constraints that have evolved over the years within school routines.  When we segment days into little boxes, it is hard to work towards these goals. I would welcome any comments … Do you work well under time pressure?  Can you see opportunities for us to allow more flexibility in the school day? Are you already giving your students this opportunity? What are the constraints or limitations? What elements of freedom, playfulness and fun do you provide in your classroom?

2 thoughts on “Time

  1. It’s my catchcry…I never have enough time to…..like you, I need time to mull. I like to collaborate and work together…but…I need at least 10 minutes time alone after I’ve heard the brief…before I start….I can’t think when others are talking. And I write best on my own.

    Others feed off the group dynamic and are best in the team situation.Collaboration is easy and they work quickly as a team.Moreover, they are powerful as a team.

    In our classrooms, both types exist. And in the teaching profession it is the same.

    I believe there needs to be space more in schools and classrooms for all ways of working and learning. I guess in “my days as a student,” my preferred way of working was favoured. And that was to the detriment of the team players.

    Now the pendulum has swung more vigorously than ever and there sometimes seems to be no time to think, create wistfully, ponder dreamily and wait until one is ready…until the ideas come and the way forward crystallizes. I feel the tidal wave of change in education, which occurs every 10-15 years in my experience, is faster and higher than ever before. It feels like there is only one way to go…fast and altogether!!!

    I am a strong believer in working globally, sharing ideas, building on the expertise of others-learning collectively. But all in the context of time fairly given. With ours and our students’ lives full of deadlines,meetings, constant challenges to embrace the latest way, and pedantic reporting, there is little time for deep thinking and creativity, to bubble to the top.

    Maybe, it’s time to break free and just do it again from the heart! I’m not saying I’d go back 30 years to when I used to sling out the guitar in the afternoons and sing with my students in 4-part harmony! But somewhere in between, happiness exists!

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