Time is my personal year’s theme. I hope to expand on this in future posts but for a graduate program I started this summer, I am required to create something. The program, which is at the University of Calgary, is called Creativity in Educational Practice. The two courses I completed in the summer were some of the most amazing learning experiences I have ever had. Not only did it allow me to develop professionally but it challenged me to reflect deeply on who I am and who I want to be. A reoccurring theme that arose was the concept of time. How we use time. How we define time. How we feel about time. As a result of this new awareness, I am currently engaging in a journey of slowing down. There are various activities, tasks and musings that are involved in this expedition, all of which will be used to complete my final creative product.
This project has also forced me to question the use of time in my classroom. I often struggle with how much time to devote to certain assignments or projects, how much time students need to complete tasks and how much time is wasted versus used effectively. I know I am required to ‘teach’ particular ‘outcomes’ (the ”s are being used facetiously) yet I can’t seem to see the value in rushing things. I want students to feel proud of the work they do and not feel like finishing first means being the best. The classroom should not be a place where speed is desired over meaningful and in depth learning. I have embraced the no homework challenge and actually before the challenge I rarely assigned homework but there comes a time when I just can no longer let something keep going on.
Even as I am typing this I am checking Facebook, twitter, downloading a show and eating my dinner. Sure if I eliminated all of these distractions I may be able to write this post quicker, but sometimes I just can’t seem to find the right word and my brief scroll through Facebook allows my brain to trigger just the word I was looking for. Is it reasonable to think students can sit for a half an hour, an hour and complete an assignment? What if they are just not able to muster up exactly what they want to say at that moment? Is it an accurate reflection of their abilities if we put a time limit on something or say hand in what you have completed or this is due on such and such day and there is no more class time to complete it?
Occasionally students are genuinely off task and are choosing not to use their class time, however the majority of my students are thinking, asking questions and generating ideas related to the task they are completing. Everything I know about 21st century learning and learning that is relevant and authentic requires time. But when do you as a teacher decide the time is up? Or, should it even be our decision, should students have more of a role in determining the time factor?
I rarely put due dates on assignments. I always tell students that I don’t want to have a due date looming over them because I want them to focus on doing a good job rather than just getting it done. As well, if they are showing me that they need more time because they want to understand it more fully or they want to gather more resources, why rush them?
I have more questions than answers in this post and I am hoping for some insight. I don’t want to design work that requires simple regurgitation of answers, the kind of tasks that can be given a time limit because there is minimal thinking involved. Though, I also don’t want to have students feel as though they have all the time in the world. Deadlines, due dates, time constraints are a reality and there is other engaging and necessary learning that needs to be done.
Which leads me to my final question, what does time look like in your classroom?