the urgent and the important

This morning I will set up ten blog accounts for students (who couldn’t follow directions the first time), reformat my lesson plans (into the district-mandated, heavy-handed format) and figure out how to turn in receipts the correct why (becuase I didn’t follow directions the first time. Apparently I’m not all that different from students). Sometimes I feel that life has given me busy work. It’s as though the teaching profession is run by the same teacher who used to give me stacks of packets and I’d mindlessly fill each one out with the hope that some day we would do something meaningful.

I want to edit my students’ work before they post it to our class blog. I want to post comments to their blogs and see the nuances in the language they use and the general trends on which issues they find the most important in the election. I want to search through campaign propaganda, so I can teach the lesson well on Wednesday. I want to pray for the girl whose dad was shot recently. I want to develop a more organized way for us to do community service and for me to monitor which students haven’t had the opportunity to attend on a weekend. I’d like to create a feedback document to track how students are improving in writing.

I find that the urgent often eats away at the important. Like a parasite, the small things (this survey will only take you ten minutes) take over the important things until I realize one morning that I am missing out on some of the best parts of teaching. I realize I cannot simply ditch the urgent. Oddly enough, I’ll get in more trouble for failing to turn in lesson plans than for failing to provide authentic feedback on student work.

This is why teachers end up cheating in certain areas. Some cheat in lesson plans and just borrow someone else’s. Some make worksheet packets so they can use up instructional time to catch up on paperwork. Some teachers replace assessing work with a simple check or check plus system. I don’t want to get to that point. I need to find a way to cheat in the urgent category, so I can spend more time on the important.

John Spencer

My goal is simple. I want to make something each day. Sometimes I make things. Sometimes I make a difference. On a good day, I get to do both.

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