Sunday, January 25, 2015

Tightening Things Up

Have you ever struggled to fit everything into the school day??

Have you ever learned a new strategy or technique and wanted to fit it into your day, but then felt that you didn't have time?

If you answered YES to either of these I believe you are in line for a Time Audit.

Oh boy, I said it...Audit.  I'm not sure anyone enjoys an audit...I'm not even sure an auditor enjoys an audit.  But, in all honesty, a time audit of your day is probably worth completing.  Still not convinced? 

For me the educational epiphany has hit me twice in my career.  The first time was during my 5th year teaching. I was taking Masters courses, teaching and trying to be the best dad and husband I could be. 

On one particular Saturday I was in class and I listened to other educators describe lessons and their typical school day.  This got my wheels spinning.  I decided to take a close look at my lesson plans and then I tracked my time all week.  What I discovered is that I had: A) too much downtime in class B) my brain breaks were too long C) I loved Social Studies, but because of this, my lessons were longer than necessary.  If I tightened things up I could really increase our reading & writing time.  

So that's what I did.  The next weekend I began to modify my plans and I began to keep a timer on my watch to help me stay focused.  The end result, I was able to increase our reading & writing time by nearly 25 minutes.  Over the course of a semester this becomes very significant.

My point is, I didn't have to cut anything from my schedule.  I listened to my colleagues, I reflected on my practice and I made adjustments.  Often times we think we must give something up to fit something in.  I don't always think this is true.  Sometimes it is as simple as Tightening Things Up.

The second educational epiphany occurred two years ago.  My good friend +Curt Rees always shares when he hits #InBoxZero.  This is in reference to his email inbox.  Well, to be frank, I hate him for #InBoxZero!  When life is good for me I hover between 8 and 15 emails.  After Curt posted #InBoxZero I set out to get control of my email.  Unfortunately I did it all wrong.  I spent too much time in my office or on a device.  I became obsessed with #InBoxZero.  Then I woke up.  To obtain #InBoxZero I had to become more efficient.  Sitting at my desk was not efficient.  So, I did another Time Audit, but this time I was the Principal, not in the classroom teaching.  My audit helped me discover that I needed to increase dialogue with staff and parents...and cut down on office time.  It also showed me that my time spent outdoors with our students was significant.  At this point I had to weigh my options.  Ultimately I came to the decision that I could still be outdoors three or four days per week, but I also needed to be in classrooms.  Ultimately, my two time audits were the BRUTAL TRUTH.  I had to prioritize and increase efficiency...not cut and replace.

We are now at the halfway point in our school year.  I urge you to take a good look at your day.  I bet you could implement new ideas and try new things without simply cutting something out.  Why not do your own Time Audit and figure out what you can, Tighten Up.


Monday, January 26th:  Lego Club 4-5pm
Monday, January 26th:  NWEA testing begins (please plan accordingly)
Tuesday, January 27th:  Kate Messner Visit for grades 3-5 at 8:45am (office will call classes down)
Tuesday, January 27th:  Minecraft Club 4-5pm
Wednesday, January 28th:  All School Assembly 8:45am Jump Rope For Heart with Mrs. Kelly
Thursday, January 29th:  iCreate Assembly at Westwinds grades 3-5 (bus leaves at 8:45 and returns at 10:50am)
Thursday, January 29th:  Minecraft Club 4-5pm
Friday, January 30th:  8am Staff Meeting in Mrs. Smith's classroom

Articles Worth Reading:

I Will Ask You About You @katiejoyk

A Thank You To The Teacher @HuffingtonPost

Having Natural Talent vs Being a Hard Worker @8Amber8

How Teaching Became Fun Again @edrethink

No Thank You @TonySinanis

Baking Bread @jonharper70bd

It Is Time To Restore the Innocence of Childhood shared by @daydreamreader

8 Toxic Beliefs That Most People Think Are Normal @marcandangel

Videos Worth Watching:

Whisper Challenge (4 min)

Raising Savvy Cyber Kids (13 min)  WORTH YOUR TIME!

Different (15 min) Inspiring & Powerful!


  1. Thank you for this post, I just wrote today about how I am trying to be more "present" in all I do and your post gave me lots to think about.

  2. Ben - Thanks for the mention of my campaign against the tyranny of email. I'm glad you mention time efficiency when it comes to email, because I don't spend more time on email, I just make better use of my time devoted to email.

    Here's a recent conversation I had on the topic with Jessica and Spike.

    1. Your use of words to describe email always make me smile! I appreciate your guidance and support with efficiency and overall time management.

      Thanks for the share.

  3. Ben, efficiency is something we should all be striving for, because it restores quality to our lives and our work. It's funny you mention the "audit" you did as a teacher...I can distinctly remember doing that in my sixth year, and it made a difference! And as for inbox zero, I remember listening to a podcast where Curt Rees discussed this, and I hope to someday get myself there - without becoming consumed with email.

    Nonetheless, the idea that we need to stop and evaluate our professional habits is powerful, because it will lead to a more meaningful experience. Improving time management will make us better leaders.

    Another great post, my friend!