CC Image credit: Time Flies by h.koppdelaney on Flickr
For as long as I can remember, I've held the belief that the expression "I don't have time" is a cop-out for people who don't have the courage to say "what you're talking about just isn't that important to me." As I enter my tenth year in the classroom, I'm not so sure. I have the good fortune work (virtually and face-to-face) with some pretty high-powered people. Some that earn five-figure keynote speaking fees, and others that direct the daily operations of a classroom full of rambunctious students. One particular individual in the latter category has me questioning my views about time. This person has already forgotten more about teaching and learning than I will ever know. A natural leader, their command and control skills would impress General Norman Schwarzkopf. This person always makes time for me, no matter how overwhelmed they are. They constantly ask me about new technologies, use me to help them think through creative lesson ideas, and work tirelessly to keep morale up on their team and in our school. They are an inspiration. And yet despite these laudable skills, abilities and talents, this individual is, increasingly ... out of time.
The futuristic thriller In Time (2011, Twentieth Century Fox), set in the year 2161, features genetically-altered human beings whose life force is regulated by an embedded countdown clock. The movie is far more complex than I can explain here, but the basic idea is that the amount of time on your "clock" determines your wealth - and literally, how long you have to live. When your clock reaches zero, you drop dead. Unless you find a way to earn (or steal) more time to add to your clock. These days, it's as though my inspirational colleague's clock has ticked down close to its final zero. The result? Pressure to do the things necessary for their survival become paramount - paperwork - parent meetings - differentiating lessons - IEPs - more meetings - more paperwork - and, of course, delivering instruction. While this could be viewed simply as a matter of priorities, I see it differently now. The initiatives I have underway with this individual are state-of-the-art could generate transformational change in our school. These are the big dreams. We have a shared vision. The results, to date, have be incredibly positive. We have a mandate. We are agents of change. And yet, we sputter. Little things don't get done. Opportunities are missed. Potentially brilliant ideas spring to life, only to atrophy from lack of attention. I used to believe that people simply made time for what was important. That was it. Now I'm not so sure. What will you accomplish before your clock reaches 00:00:00? And how will you decide what to work on in those final days, hours, minutes, and seconds? -kj-