I was sitting at a stop sign, heading home from school one afternoon. The line was unusually long, and I had things to do. Thinking about everything I could be doing while I was wasting time sitting in the long string of vehicles, I noticed that the tiny left turning lane was empty. Hurriedly, I whipped into the lane, turned left, and was on my way, saving valuable time. As I was heading home on this alternate route, I realized that had I taken this way home every day, I would have saved myself lots of time. Why had I gone the same old way day after day? Especially when this way was shorter and quicker?
Don’t we do this as educators? We bemoan the minutes every day that are taken from our teaching time. With long lines of RtI, Title I, recess, specials, Learning Resources, assemblies waiting for us each day, we feel the frustration of precious minutes slipping through our fingers, while we are held increasingly accountable for the achievement of our students. When presented with new ideas, challenges, or curriculum, we strongly resist adding any more time to anything else. But maybe we are going along the same educational route every day, not realizing we are wasting time ourselves. Could we do away with “housekeeping” items that replace learning activities? Instead of a thirty-minute “mini”lesson, could we accomplish the same thing with 15 mintues? Could we model a small piece of writing, instead of an entire essay? Could we send home reading passages for students to read and annotate, so that our lesson the next day include discussion and learning activites based on those readings?
Reflection is an important step in becoming a better educator. As we reflect on the lesson we teach, we might also think about how we can save time and include more important aspects of a lesson, while wasting less time through the habit of going the same route every day.