Making Time

How do you plan for your strategic use of time?

In a culture that seems to take some kind of pride in talking about how busy we all are, it seems even more important that we purposefully plan for our time, so that we can ensure that we focus as much as possible on the essential and strategic. That is, if we are truly striving to do significant work and intentionally make a difference.

In the past, I’ve written about my approach to this strategic planning for use of my time…

During the last days of 2014, I created my first prototype for my 2015 schedule paradigm.

For me, I create this schedule paradigm by engaging in some reflection about how I spent my time in the previous two semesters, and I calibrate those data and insights with how I perceive I need to spend my time relative to our strategic goals and objectives as a school.

Then, I ask for feedback…

Dear All:

I don’t mean to interrupt your break. I’m simply getting something into your inboxes for when you return to work. (Happy New Year!)

I’m sharing my “schedule paradigm” prototype for semester two, 2014-15. And I have two requests of each of you, which I hope will only take 5-15 minutes max.

1. Because you are the people with whom I work most closely, I want you to be aware that this is my current thinking about how I plan to structure my recurrent time for second semester. [Most of you know that I do this every August and January to “put the big rocks in the jar first.” Here’s a 2011 blog post, if you’re interested, where I first explain this practice of mine.]

*2. I’d love any of your thoughts, comments, questions, and feedback on how I’ve structured my time plan (which I call a “schedule paradigm”).

Some of the questions I already know I have:

  • As I try to ramp up my CLIO time, how might I get back into weekly work with Preschool, Lower School, and Middle School? Is there a regular weekly/monthly way for me to get re-involved with the other divisions? What do Kelly, Shelley, and Chip + Katie and Nicole see as those opportunities?
  • How might Mary and I return to regular meet-ups to strategically work on DT across divisions and curricula? How might we include Jim?
  • How can I best support Meghan in the development of iDiploma’s big picture, as well as with the on-the-ground work this semester?
  • How can I best support Kristyn with the (i)Project development and future framework?
  • What support/co-labor do the other US SLT members need that I am not providing them?
  • How might I stay focused on the Progress Monitoring System work across divisions, and especially in Upper School this semester?
  • How do I best ensure that I am in classrooms at least 8-10 hours per week?
  • Is there enough white space for people to come get me, drop in, schedule time for all the things that I don’t know yet will come up but that always seem to?
  • How do I best prioritize #fuse15 ramp up?
  • How do I best do my share of the leadership and heavy lifting for the intensive work that MVIFI needs?



The feedback I receive from my peer and colleagues is invaluable. From their questions and ideas, I’m already adjusting parts of the schedule so that my plans for strategic time allocation align and synergize with theirs.

As you do your work to lead a school, classroom, project, venture, company, or other endeavor, how do you make time? I’d love to learn from you via comments and links you might leave here.


This post first appeared on It’s About Learning 1.10.2015

Possibility from the Mother (Nature) of Invention – Schedules

DISCLAIMER: This post is merely a “thinking post.” I am NOT announcing a change to the daily schedule at the Westminster Junior High. [That ought to make a few people read on!]

God did not create the school schedule. Administrators did. So…nothing is carved in stone. – Unknown

During this second semester, we have had some significant schedule changes due to weather. In January we missed an entire week of school, and the Junior High has compensated for the lost instructional time by altering what is typically our exam week in the final days of May. Also, because of the severe winds and rains of April, we have had to cancel or delay school on a couple of days. Throughout these disruptions to the expected and well-planned moments of school, our Junior High teachers have demonstrated remarkable flexibility and adaptability. They have modeled those 21st C skills by adapting and readjusting to the necessary changes in schedule thrown at us by Mother Nature. [Thanks, Junior High!] Students and parents have shown great understanding and flexibility, too. [Thanks, students and parents!]

So, by my reckoning, we have altered at least 7-8 days of school. There has been no real wailing or gnashing of teeth. People have adjusted. Perhaps we have been so flexible because you just cannot mess with Mother Nature. Perhaps we realize that there are a number of ways to schedule school. Throughout a typical year, we do have special days for L.E.A.P. (Leadership Experience Advisement Program). So, people must value that various modes and methods of learning require schedules that fit the myriad models of instruction. When we can plan and anticipate in advance, we can also be flexible with our normal 55-minute-class based schedule.

Well, all of this has me thinking a lot. If we can demonstrate flexibility and adaptability during the forces of Mother Nature, and if we can demonstrate flexibility and adaptability during planned, expected schedule changes for different modes of learning…then couldn’t we run a week-long (or a two-week long) experiment with a different schedule in 2011-12? Just to learn by doing?

Why would I even propose such an idea? Our school recently rolled out a vision statement for learning in the 21st century at Westminster. In the vision, among other things, we call for more integrated studies and project-based learning. These modes require longer blocks of time for activity, exploration, experimentation, discovery, and authentic learning. So, couldn’t we experiment with a schedule not too terribly different with our current schedule? Couldn’t we run an experiment and see what we think about one period a week per course being longer in time and function? Wouldn’t we learn immeasurably from having to walk and work in such a schedule?

We’ve shown we can adapt and exercise flexibility. We have the skills. Imagine what we could learn by using those skills to explore a new setting. Anyone game? I have a file of about 50 different school schedules. Below is but one example as a possible week-long experiment. I think some interesting preparations and possible outcomes could be explored and discovered. What do you think?