professornana (professornana) wrote,


This morning I read a blog post with advice for teachers at the beginning of the year. Get to know the school, your colleagues, etc. All sound advice especially for new teachers or those new to the school. There was one item, however, that I ad not seen as often in these back-to-school litanies. It talked abut taking those few "down" times which occur during the course of a day and accomplishing small tasks.

Most of you know my propensity for To-Do Lists. I try to make a list especially for those days I am at the office. Some of the items on the list are large projects that will move on from today's list to lists in the coming days and weeks and perhaps even months. But some are those easy to check off items that will take only a few minutes to accomplish. I do not prioritize. Instead, my goal is to complete something quick before moving on to the more complex tasks. This accomplishes several things.

1. I can almost immediately cross items from the To-Do List by completing these small tasks. The list looks much less daunting with items eliminated (and I use a large neon colored marker).

2. I tend not to forget those little things that can sometimes slip through the cracks on a busy day. Sometimes I have to add items as mundane as making an appointment for a haircut or stopping to get some food for Scout.

3. Those larger goals are there to remind me to attack them small pieces at a time to make them manageable. How did I write the professional books? Words, sentences, and paragraphs at a time. During the writing of MAKING THE MATCH, Nurse Girl was 10. There were lots of interrupts when I sat down to write. But if I set a daily goal, I knew the interruptions could be welcome instead of annoying.

But moving on from To-Do Lists, there are other things we can do in those brief spaces. I attended a seminar years ago about time management. One of the tips from the presenter was to create a Joy Journal. In it, we were to make some lists (you can see why I loved this workshop, right?). One list should be things I could do in a 5 minute time span to provide some joy. Other lists should focus on items that bring me joy in ever increasing segments of time: 30 minutes, an hour, a day, a weekend. Though I do not have the Joy Journal, those lists are sort of ingrained in me after all these years. And I do take "joy breaks" as often as warranted.

And then I read READING IN THE WILD by Donalyn Miller where she talks about taking some of those moments to read. Reading in the edges. Fringe reading. That means having books for those times when we do have some time. I take books to appointments. I can read a typical GN during the time it takes for me to get those crazy colors in my hair. Doctor appointment? I generally take 2 books, sometimes 3. I listen to audio during my commute. I read picture books after crossing items off the To-Do List at the office. I have books in the bathroom, emergency books in the car, books next to me in the home office. If I have 5 minutes or so, I can read a picture book. Karin Perry and I do this each week at the office. We read a handful or two of picture books in the down time and post them out to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, etc.

So, how can we create those small times when kids can read as well? We can model for certain. When I was teaching 8th grade, students would come into the room to see me reading. When I taught FTF class at the university, I could be "caught" reading as students arrived for class. But we need to go further and suggest some other edge or fringe times for our students. Have kids create a list of those times and keep them in a notebook. Yes, there is time for texting and posting still (as those of you who know me can attest). But there is also time to grab a book and read.

Making time for reading does not have to mean carving out large chunks (though I do love a rainy weekend day). Instead, it means learning how to read in those moments, how to ensure we have access to materials when those times present themselves.
Tags: reading, time

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