Wasting Time

In a stack of papers called Instruction.

  • Mar
  • 03
  • 2007

I hate wasting time. As with most jobs, there are countless things teachers do every day. There’s a lot to keep track of, progress to make, skills to address, mastery to assess. So when I have to do something that wastes my time, I get angry.

Standards To Students?

One such thing is posting the standards that we are covering each day. This is not something I do, but other teachers are expressing interest in (it’s to cover bases during our looming visitation – see below – but it’s been something other teachers have expressed over the years). The furthest I go is to post the appropriate standards on assignment sheets. Even that I do begrudgingly.

The standards are for teachers, not students. I don’t mind sharing the standards with my students, as long as it has a larger purpose. Sharing standards for the sake of sharing standards… well, can you tell me the standard that addresses? Can you tell me how it helps the students be able to do any of those things?

I even support using the standards as a guideline for grades in some subjects. English and social science are *not* two such subjects (though I’ll give it a partial shot this coming grade period), but others seem quite suited to it. To post the standards you’re working on each day is a waste. Either it’s just posturing and you never draw student attention to it or you take away valuable instruction time.

Is it better for students to know what standard is being addressed or for them to begin learning the standard the teacher needs them to? Any time taken away from my students demonstrating mastery of a certain standard/skill or learning how to demonstrate same wastes time. This includes my telling the students what they are about to learn to be able to do. Skip the intro and just get to the meat of the matter: instruct the students on how to perform.

That Looming Visitation

For a certain impending visitation by a certain accreditation committee, teachers need to put together “evidence boxes,” cardboard boxes supposedly filled with full class sets of three different types of assessments collected at three different times for each prep we teach. Got it? That’s a lot of paperwork.

That’s also a lot of assignments that are not handed back to the students.

This means that I need to hang on to the assessments, making them pretty much useless. I don’t have class sets of assignments because I want my assignments to mean something to the students. I hand things back as quickly as I can and then beat myself over the head for not getting them back sooner.

But I’m supposed to assign something and then make sure that I hang on to that same type of assignment in September, November, and February? If an assessment type is important enough to be given that frequently, it would serve a much better purpose by being in the hands of the students.

I hate wasting time. I’m sorry for wasting yours, but I had to get these things out there.


1. Dan Meyer says:

[3/5/2007 - 10:10 am]

Can you pass the tests back and then re-collect them?

2. Todd says:

[3/5/2007 - 12:41 pm]

Thanks for humoring me, Dan. This is a pretty trivial post.

Yes. However, here’s the trouble:

  1. Assessment #1 in September
  2. Hand back assessment
  3. Work with reflection on assessment or review skills
  4. Assessment #2 in November/December
    • At this point, students need assessment #1 as a way to figure out what they can do to improve their performance
    • Assessment #1 still not collected; assessment #2 given
  5. Hand back assessment
  6. Now, the reflection or review can take into account performance on 2 different markers
  7. Assessment #3 in February/March
  8. etc.
  9. It’s a cycle that doesn’t stop all year long. There’s no good time to take an assessment out of that loop. More importantly, there’s no good time to take an assessment out of that loop for a committee of 3 that have 108 classrooms to visit in 2 days (do the math, but that doesn’t leave a lot of time for intense reading of the evidence I went through all that trouble to collect). I expect my students to use their previous work to improve future performance. I can’t have that expectation if I ever take away those materials.

3. Todd says:

[3/6/2007 - 8:19 pm]

They visited my classroom today. They were only there for 3 minutes. They never even looked in the general direction of my evidence box. That makes it exactly the waste of time I thought it would be.

4. Dan Meyer says:

[3/7/2007 - 6:33 pm]

Er, that sucks, in my opinion.

5. Robert says:

[9/18/2008 - 10:40 am]

Well as it seems, the plan isn’t as worked out as it is typed out i personally felt it had good points but the flaws are just as numeras i as a student do thank you thought i am only a senior in high school but it has caught my attention. Btw good luck with that evidence box it seems to be time consuming with no efficency unless explained to the student before hand.