Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels,
each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels,
and each student demonstrates learning at high levels (Blackburn, 2008).

Monday, January 12, 2015

What Takes Up Your Time?

Let's think for a moment about all the things that take up your time.

Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1989), tells a story about time management. He describes filling a big jar about halfway with sand. After putting in some small stones, he tries to add the big stones; of course, they don’t fit. He demonstrates that by putting the large stones in first, adding the small stones, and finally adding the sand, every- thing fits. The lesson? This is how our time works. Our calendars and days are so full of little things that are urgent, then we don’t have time to do the things we value (big
stones). The largest stones, the things we value the most, must be planned first, or they don’t happen.

The same example works for us as we plan our classrooms. What are the stones in your classroom? The standards or the content you are expected to teach? If so, you agree with most teachers I talk with. But I think that answer is too narrow. Covey’s point is that the big stones are the important things we value that get lost in the urgency of everyday challenges. In your classroom, the biggest, most important stones are the key instructional and motivational strategies that make a difference with your students, the true building blocks of learning. 

The smaller rocks are your standards. You know they are mandatory, and you ensure that you cover them. Finally, the sand granules are all the other activities that take up time in your classroom such as checking attendance or collecting money. It’s like Covey said, you always get to the sand, but sometimes we have so much sand that we never get to the stones. There’s simply not enough time left. We are so caught up in the urgency of busyness that important things don’t happen. 

Today, what is taking up your instructional space?  How do you need to adjust what you are doing?  

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