After almost thirty years as an educator I feel I can walk in to any school and know what’s important to the adults in that building within five minutes. Actually, it’s got nothing to do with experience and I’m confident anyone reading this post could do the same thing. The key lies in what we choose to spend our time on. I believe our most precious resource in education today is time. Most educators will tell me they don’t have enough time to accomplish the myriad of demands placed on them. I have not yet had an educator tell me they end each day with a half hour to kill and spend it pining away for more paperwork!
If this is the case, how we choose to spend the time we have is a pretty clear indicator of what’s important to us. If your staff engages in the “great late debate” frequently or we spend lots of time talking about food in class or kids wearing hats, then this defines what we see as important. Particularly when those topics come at the sacrifice of engaging in great dialogue about our practice, student progress, and involving parents in our schools. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting schools ought to ignore the items around expectations and guidelines. I’m just not sure that hours spent talking about tardiness are well spent. The reality is we spend most of that time thinking about new consequences as if that might be the tonic. When I ask educator audiences to raise their hand if anyone can assure me they have never been late to a faculty meeting, I rarely get a hand raised. That doesn’t mean it’s not important, it just not as important as the time we devote to it and the good conversations we sacrifice because of that debate.
If I come to your school what will I notice in that first five minutes?