Your Time Matters
Have you ever arrived to the end of a day and wondered what happened to the moments in between? Education is a busy space filled with interactions and frames of time that bridge ideas and fill your perceptions with the way you can approach action. As new ideas and challenges arise, the minutes in your calendar fill up rapidly. As you navigate your days, finding peace and contentment with how your time is spent can seem like a challenge. Watching the empty spaces of time on your calendar disappear can push you to prioritize the space in the minutes in between to connect with others, reflect, create, implement, and refine ideas.
Landing Your Feet on the Ground
You most likely have never had a week that wasn’t filled with important things. That is because the work you do for kids is so important. You may find it to be a constant struggle to plant your feet firmly on the ground. That is because in education your feet never stay in one place. There are also going to be those days when you get pushed off balance. It will be clear to you how you intended to allot your time, transformed into something else that is out of your control. Does this sentiment sound familiar? What I am continuously learning is that every day can bring a fresh start to solidly land your feet on the ground again. You can approach the gift of time on a new day with renewed confidence and choose the way you spend your minutes despite the uncertainty some days may bring.
Making the Time
For example, this week I had a lot of meetings in different places across my district. That meant that I needed to travel from one building to another frequently. I realized that I didn’t leave ample travel time on more than a few occasions. That also meant that towards the end of those particular meetings, I found myself trying to stay more in the moment because I had already started thinking about getting to the next one. Then, when I arrived at my new destination, I had little time to settle in, recalibrate, and collect my thoughts. During one of the meetings, I received a text from a teacher who knew I was in her building. “Lauren, I’d love you to come by my classroom to see something my students did if you have time.” I immediately looked at my watch and seconds later identified that I had three minutes to get to this classroom before traveling to my next meeting. The thought never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t get there because seeing teachers and students is the most important part of the way I spend my time. When my meeting concluded, I basically ran to this teacher’s classroom. “Look Lauren, I wanted to show you that the whole grade level participated in the “One Word” activity for the New Year. We explained to them that this is a word they will focus on as they work towards meeting their social, emotional, and academic learning goals. Remember when you shared this with us last year? We’ve hung them all in the hallway and the students are always keeping their One Word at home.” My goodness. Of course I had remembered sharing this activity the year before, but never thought about the strength of its influence. Those three unexpected minutes suddenly turned into the most important part of my day. In making space for those minutes, a teacher shared that an instructional practice I shared had become a grade-level tradition and more importantly, left a positive impact on kids.
Three Ideas to Make Space for Time
There will always be a lot on the “to do” list. You know what I am talking about! This made me pause and think about three ways I will continue to schedule my time. I will look for ways to:
Prioritize People – If you are working towards continuous improvement in the work you are doing, keeping the focus on developing relationships, listening to people, and cross pollinating ideas is the best investment in time. In the book The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros, he shares, “It is easy to lock yourself in your office, connect with people on Twitter, and appear from your room with some great idea or new thing…if you have lost focus on and connection with people in your building, even if you offer new ideas, they might not be embraced by those you lead.” It is vital to be visible and spend time learning from the teachers and students who are in the classrooms to create a better tomorrow.
Keep Goals in Focus – Look where you focus your time and energy. Are you filling your calendar with meetings that aren’t in line with district and building priorities? Who is involved and how will the use of that time impact the kids and colleagues you serve in positive ways? Are the conversations in these meetings learner focused? These questions may help you review your calendar in more critical ways. What meetings should stay and what can you do to eliminate the minutes that aren’t aligned with your goals and priorities?
Be More Responsive and Less Reactive – Think about this… what items on your calendar need to get done now and what can wait until later? Are the items in your calendar an intentional response to the important things you are working on? Will the meetings really solve a potential challenge or will they be a quick reaction, a band aid for an existing issue that requires more purposeful attention? I have found that being in spaces with proactive people who are more responsive and less reactive is beneficial because you are working together to take action on important things in intentional ways. When you are able to work with people who celebrate the good things, maintain a consistent vision, and identify potential concerns, you are positioned in solutions oriented spaces of time.
Your days are filled with chances. Push yourself to take a closer look at how you make space for meaningful moments of time. Examining each day with fresh eyes will cultivate your commitment to capture your own time with greater intention and purpose. Time matters.