Tracking Time to Learn from Our Patterns – a Lesson from My New World

At my new company, we track our time. I imagine many companies track how time is spent. For me, in these two weeks, during an 8-9 hour day, I probably spend 3 minutes total going through the exercise of tracking my time. So, it’s easy. The software we use makes it easy. There are pre-poulated pull-down menus and sub-menus. There are wonderfully granular levels of such activity as “research.” There are text fields so that I can add commentary, too. Then, I can look at reports of how I am spending my time. Of course, my coaches can also view how I spend my time, and I totally and completely trust them to do so.

What if we teachers tracked our time like this? Recently, at lunch with a colleague, I mentioned how surprised I was to learn that I am loving my self-tracking of time. Because I have spent 20 years in schools, and because I love to integrate most of what I am learning with school life, I could imagine us teachers tracking our time. I could imagine content-oriented pull-down menus and sub-menus. I could imagine skill-oriented pull-down menus and sub-menus. I could imagine methodology and pedagogy menus and sub-menus. I could imagine running a report after two weeks and seeing for myself, “Wow. I spent 78% of my teaching time this week lecturing. Is that a good thing? How might I re-balance my methodology and approaches given my SMART goal and desired outcome for the year?”

Of course, I also imagined students tracking their time. In the spirit of making education “more pull, than push,” I would love for a student to share with me in an individual conference how he or she had spent his/her learning time during the week or two-week period. I could imagine doing this with advisees, so that I could discover with them how they are exploring their interests and spending time in their structured school-learning environments. I could imagine seeing the cross-polinations and synergies among class-content time recordings and self-directed time recordings.

In many ways, I see my time tracking as related to the tips shared in an article that a colleague sent to me about 11 secrets of leadership. My time tracking allows me to record reality in short bits, and then I can study my time to be more proactive about how I structure my days to further leadership and learning.

Time is a valuable resource. In fact, time may be the most valuable resource. I am thrilled to have a better handle on how I spend my time so that I can be purposeful, intentional, and strategic about making the most of my opportunities to create impact and to make a difference.

How are you spending your time…your time learning…your time teaching…your time working?

[Interestingly, after talking about this with my friend at lunch, he sent me a link to Lesson Note, a digital tool for tracking class activity, particularly as it relates to “lesson study,” an action research collaboration in learning communities for which I am a strong and dedicated advocate. However, the kind of time tracking that I am sharing above is very different and only distantly related to Lesson Note tracking. The type of time tracking I am discussing feels more self-initiated and self-directed. Of course, Lesson Note could be used in very positive and powerful ways, too, if a team decided to employ such a digital resource to advance their work and understanding about their teaching.]