I love class changes

There was a terrifying moment in year seven of our school when I realized that there was nothing for me to do.  No kids were in the hallway, no parents were angrily pacing in the front office, no classrooms were massive disasters that I was preparing to take over  (o.k. maybe one, but that was in 8th grade which I  housed in another building since ignorance is bliss).  The terrifying moment was summed up by the voice in my head saying “now, what??”

I have always loved any excuse to stride up and down the hallway purposefully.  I loved joking with kids and correcting kids.  I loved the questions teachers fired at me-are we having Pride time on Friday? should Jheri earn Bench? Does it look like this homework was copied? Somewhere in the hum of all the action and interaction there was a sneaking suspicion that my constant motion was no different than the kid who wanders room to room after school offering to help clean the boards all the while managing to avoid doing homework.

This is not to suggest we spend more time on email; in fact I see my hallway strolls as an old school form of the multi-tasking.  There was never sustained focus on one task or thought.  There was a next level we were never going to reach because I was repeating the same start-up song and dance.  No more five minute pop-ins, I had to start observing whole lessons. No more improvised sermon in front of the cafeteria; the character lesson had to be planned and executed with the teachers who were going to enforce it.  No more topic of the week PD responding to the latest crisis, there had to be a vision and plan.  If the school was going to change and grow I had to change how I spent my time, energy, and thought.

This evolution is not some dramatic leap from the Stone Age to the Digital Era.  Much of what makes our work exciting and meaningful is its human urgency.  The weeping 8th grader, the nervous teacher, and the dodgeball game still demand my immediate attention.   As much as I preach self-control I struggle with its practice.  I am constantly reminding myself that it’s ok to do things like read about teaching, examine student work, or hold a sustained conversation about a lesson even during, god forbid, class change.

Ideally this monologue should become a conversation.  Share your thoughts.

What should this work look like five years in? Ten years?

What about the thirty year KIPP principal who doesn’t exist yet?

How has your day evolved?  How do you want to evolve in the way you spend your time?

If you want to think more about this…

Try tracking your time is spent.  I have had interns follow kids and teachers around for the day to capture how they spend their time; I should probably do the same for myself.

Read the key point of the following study.  We need sustained focus in order to learn complex lessons. http://www.brightsurf.com/news/headlines/25557/Multi-tasking_adversely_affects_brains_learning_UCLA_psychologists_report.html

Read this essay by Rick Dufour.  He argues for shifting our focus from what are teachers teaching to what are students learning.  It’s a powerful idea that has implications for how we spend our time. http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/may02/vol59/num08/The_Learning-Centered_Principal.aspx

Check out the following graph.  My guess is that most KIPP school leaders are dramatic outliers. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/07/31/business/20080801-metrics-graphic.html?scp=3&sq=infographic&st=cse


3 Responses to “I love class changes”

  1. jsmith6 Says:

    I am loving this post, and know of a great blog post by an incredible teacher blogger that I think relates. He is a data nerd, and a math teacher, and collects all kinds of random data every year so that come January he can create a comprehensive report about how he spent his year. Then he can reflect, and set goals for the upcoming year. LOVE IT. Meant to start this year but couldn’t get my act together, so hoping to give it a go next year 🙂 You can find it at: http://blog.mrmeyer.com/?p=5810

  2. Don’t eat the marshmallow…answer the text instead. « Mrdolan’s Weblog Says:

    […] https://mrdolan.wordpress.com/2009/09/03/i-love-class-changes/ […]

  3. Don’t eat the marshmallow…answer the text instead. « Mrdolan’s Weblog Says:

    […] https://mrdolan.wordpress.com/2009/09/03/i-love-class-changes/ […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: