Friday, April 14, 2006

What Power Do We Have To Change Our Relationship With Time?

We have arrived at a tipping point at school, to use the language of the day, around the issue of time.

What Power Do We Have To Change Our Relationship with Time?

Right now- the question for me is how we use our time, not just Use our time, but view our time, live our time. ….and I want to ask myself, do I let Time define my teaching? Does time set the tone in my classroom? Is Time defining us as educators?

I think we are letting our reaction to time run us into frenzy, command us at a pace we can’t sustain. It seems every moment we are together we are complaining about how little time we have and how we are relentlessly interrupted and disrupted and now, as our school year is ending,…
All this dissatisfaction and frustration occurs at an even higher pitch…

We won’t be able to address this issue constructively until we shift the whole way we are looking at it. # 1 we need to stop complaining. And #2 we need to ask ourselves some deeper questions: Questions that will get at the root of what is really upsetting us. Blaming is just a way to avoid taking responsibility.

As Albert Einstein said:
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it."

I don’t believe that TIME works against us
(only our thoughts about it.)
Why every day- it brings a new sunrise and children who are growing.
Every day
new beginnings, openings and possibilities.
even between the fragments,
these moments occur
- and they do! - between subjects, between classes, between lunch and recess. .
unforgettable ones, transforming events, even pivotal times. And they happen in our classrooms too. And yet, we miss so many of them.
We are so focused on getting to the next thing
So often, I fear we rob ourselves daily of the TIMES we could truly relish
In our teaching, with our students, with each other, in our daily routine of rushing.

I think we need to give up trying to perfect the art of time management. It has been the sure cause of stress. And before we try to re-do our schedule, I propose we think about when, how and where we create the atmosphere we want for our students. I know I value the time we spend appreciating books- reading aloud, and discussing books for book club. Those are good blocks. And I feel just as strongly about Writing Workshop. ….giving children a space to write their thoughts and feelings- explicitly saying: I value what you think and what you notice and IT MATTERS…for me this is the essence of how learning can empower and free ……When I re-evaluate the meaningful work we are doing in our classrooms, I am proud of the way we use our time and the way kids spend their time. I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that

childhood is more a space than a time.

I think we can teach everything with respect for this space-cultivating reflection and awareness- nourishing ourselves and our students simultaneously with the mindset of helping kids access this space within them for learning, creating, asking….wondering …..risking….
….yes, especially math…..and science and art and poetry……… we can and do plan lessons and activities that inherently engage kids and encourage kids to explore, create, investigate, discover, and make connections. I don’t think creating these “timeless” spaces requires extraordinary extended periods of time…..
Just a conscious awareness and commitment on our part..
When we’ve had a day of those engagements, I contentedly think,
“The school day is just the right length!”

Let’s start the whole TIME/Schedule discussion anew…by asking ourselves what we value, what we want kids to experience and how we want them to experience various activities and between times at school.

At the end of the day, instead of thinking of all the things we didn’t do-
Think of all we did do!
Remember those moments you shared with your students?...right now I am thinking about the poems my students read to their classmates and the excitement they found designing Cuisenaire structures with surface areas of exactly 100 sq. cm. There were countless “timeless” moments …and too many of them go unnoticed
Time and time again.

We need to know- and trust that we don’t need to do more than we have time to do!
What if we believed we had the perfect amount of time? And everything happened just as it should? On time? What would happen to our stress levels? And then without that stress, wouldn’t we be better teachers?

Let’s get out of our stuck places and work together to ensure the meaningful work of all our days.