“I don’t have time for that!” – Preconference reflections

I have always found confronting the balance between my teaching and personal lives: they are both things that I love and are central to my self-identity.  They are also ‘black holes’: there is always something more I could be doing; and, you can never be perfect at either role, I suspect.

So, launching into a two day workshop where I am going to have a whole lot of new stuff thrown at me, one of my responses could well have been I don’t have time for that!  My days are already busy with pastoral and co-curricular responsibilities, meeting the administrative and assessment requirements of the school; let alone planning my teaching.

My thinking would have been:  Where would the time come from to innovate? It would come from my personal time.

And I have a five year old with a cochlear implant who is on track to meet his potential thanks to a lot of investment from us and the fabulous Shepherd Centre.  I have a nine year old who just wants to learn and play sport with his dad.  That isn’t going to last long;  he will be a teenager soon!

Sitting through the forthcoming staff conference, I wonder how many people will be thinking I don’t have time for that!  Time pressure has been found to be a major contributor to teacher stress (Kyriacou, 2001).    They also find changes to established practices stressful (Black and Wiliam, 1998; Hallam et al., 2004; Priestley et al., 2010).

So it was timely that Silvia Tolisano put me onto a blog post by George Couros entitled 5 Alternatives for “I Don’t Have Time for That”  whereI found one statement especially challenging:

“You don’t have time to learn?”  When would our students get away
with that statement so easily?

He suggests five alternate responses:

  1. How will my students benefit from this practice?
  2. I am not seeing the relevance of this for teaching and learning…could you give me specifics of how this would impact my practice?
  3. How would you suggest incorporating what you are suggesting into my position?
  4. What has been the biggest benefits for your own practice?
  5. If I was to do this, what would it replace that I am doing now?

These five questions are ones I am going to have close at hand going into the next two days.



Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998a). Assessment and Classroom Learning. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 5(1), 7-74. doi:10.1080/0969595980050102

Hallam, S., Kirkton, A., Peffers, J., Robertson, P., & Stobart, G. (2004). Evaluation of Project 1 of the Assessment is for Learning Development Programme: Support for Professional Practice in Formative Assessment – Final Report  Retrieved from Retrieved from: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2004/10/19947/43007

Kyriacou, C. (2001). Teacher Stress: Directions for future research. Educational Review, 53(1), 27-35. doi:10.1080/00131910120033628

Priestley, M., Miller, K., Barrett, L., & Wallace, C. (2010). Teacher learning communities and educational change in Scotland: the Highland experience. British Educational Research Journal, 37(2), 265-284. doi:10.1080/01411920903540698



One thought on ““I don’t have time for that!” – Preconference reflections

  1. I find the pockets of time, wherever I can, to keep myself in “looking” mode – the two minutes waiting for the elevator, the podcast on the commute, pages of a book I burn through while waiting in line at the bank. Taking in ideas constantly helps me keep looking at the routine from different angles. For the me the mental danger of teaching is the institutionalized monotony. Sometimes I find the spark of curiosity in reviewing student work, or sharing it with a colleague (I only look at five students’ work a day and spend one hour give each extended feedback). Then I have to have at least one day a week when I stay late, read, and mule over upcoming content or prepare particular lessons. If I find myself rushed, not getting enough wandering time, then I feel pinched, in the rut of school culture, chasing papers.

    Then, when I blog, or podcast, or prepare presentations, I feel like I’m creating the narrative, the backstory to my teaching. Blogging is like telling the story of your class, or yourself as en educator.



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