Stuff Hijacking Important Time

There is a universal truth about teaching.

Globally, regardless of our nations’ curriculum, system policies or funding for resources, there is a collective cry from teachers.

There is never enough time.

It got me thinking about making a list for teachers of things they can stop doing.

A list of Stuff Hijacking Important Time. (S.H.I.T.)

A S.H.I.T. List.
(Come on, you know we can’t help ourselves with acronyms. So there’s one you’ll love.)

My Department has endeavoured to address this problem for school principals. They called it ‘Red Tape Reduction’. They have a Red Tape Reduction Council of Principals. I’m not joking.

See, now a S.H.I.T List seems totally hip.

So seriously, what could teachers stop wasting their time doing because their efforts have little to no impact on their students learning outcomes?

With a word of warning… this is not to be confused with the mantra, “Do Epic Shit”. Which is totally worth the time.

What would you put on a list of ‘Stuff Hijacking Important Time’ that teachers could stop doing? Let it rip in the comments.

7 Comments

  • What a clever acronym, S.H.I.T. I hope you don’t mind if I use it!

    Monitoring students in the hallways during lunch. Staff meetings which could be condensed into one, neat powerpoint. Side projects– like creating powerpoints– assigned to me by administration. Analyzing test scores. Walking around outside on the playground picking up garbage. Writing reviews of my own teaching for administration. Attending PD to learn some new buzzwords I really need to know how to pronounce if the superintendent pays our school a visit….

    Basically…anything that isn’t teaching. Thanks for writing this very honest post!

  • When I made the decision to leave teaching I came home one afternoon, opened my journal and made a list. I wanted to write down everything I wouldn’t miss about teaching – all the stuff that was driving me mad. I made a vow I would look at the list ten months later when I had to make my final decision about resigning. I thought the list would be a reminder of what full-time teaching was really like. Most of the stuff on that list was S.H.I.T stuff. So, here it is:
    * Entering data into spreadsheets to send off to the bean counters
    * Filling out paperwork every time I issued a bandaid or ice pack
    * Spending my mornings trying to get computers ‘back online’
    * Not having enough iPads for the activities I had planned
    * Plugging in and charging sets of iPads and computers each afternoon
    * Vacuuming up the dead moths and flies and spiders that littered my window sills
    * Supervising after-school programmes that the school would sign up for in order to raise some extra funds to buy some more sports equipment
    * ‘Extra days’ that became bigger than God’s undies – like Grandparents Day, Fete Day, School Saint Day, Father’s Day etc etc
    * Having to provide morning tea once a term and birthday cakes for someone’s birthday
    * Taking minutes during staff meeting (let’s just record it on a device people?!)
    * Dealing with student allergies without adequate funding to do so (not enough epi-pens in various locations)
    * “guest speakers” that had nothing to do with any content kids were learning – eg Football Clubs
    * Having to take a turn on the School Board…

    I could go on… my list takes four pages in my journal.

  • All of the data points and monitoring. I have 15 different data points and spreadsheets to enter data in every week. I know it’s important if you want to win in urban education, but it can be exhausting if you aren’t 110% on board with the mission and vision of the school.

    • Brendan, This must be draining. I would believe your sentiments are shared by many educators. Each time a read an anecdote about the requirements of teachers to collect excessive data, I can’t help but think there has to be a better way.

  • Sitting through boring S.H.I.T. Meetings.. And being told information that could easily be a 1 paragraph email. My pet peeve!!
    Also, reporting.. It is artificial and time consuming. There are so many ways we could use technology to feedback to stakeholders in real time rather than a snapshot at a given point in time.

    • Ku, Thanks for stopping by and starting this list. It’s great to have you here.
      You make two very good points. Meetings drive me nuts as well and for that reason I often finished staff meeting 20 minutes earlier than planned because I just don’t believe in taking up time for the sake of it. I’m now pondering how teachers can tactfully influence how meetings are ‘done to them’.
      On the topic of reporting, there is a very obvious disequilibrium between the amount of time teachers put into preparing reports compared to the time spent by parents reading and discussing them with their children. Even parents in education would spend no more 5 minutes reading and talking about a report before it’s filed away. Yet the teacher has spent hours grading and writing the comments. There has to be a better way.

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