When we consider the way we use time we should think about the words useful or useless. What do we do that is useful and how do we measure that?
I have witnessed countless useful efforts in the school system I've worked in for 32 years, and I've witnessed useless efforts too.
One wonderful useful effort has been the school garden. Though, at times, it has been difficult for those who forward this wonderful effort to get needed support, they've persisted and that has resulted in a terrific on-site, modern day teaching/learning effort.
Another useful effort, in my opinion, has been embedding Symphony Math into our curriculum. Over time the software has improved greatly as have teachers' abilities to embed that into our teaching/learning program. There's still room for growth here, but all in all, it has been a successful initiative that results in deeper, richer, research-based student learning.
The work we do for signature projects such as the Global Changemakers project at fifth grade is also fruitful--it is a memorable, rich project that leads students to do deep, meaningful, and memorable stay and presentation. It's a keeper that gets better every year.
Some useless efforts I've witnessed have included spending lots of money on consultants and efforts that go nowhere, yet the money we've spent on consultants from IDEAS have been rich and fruitful, truly challenging the work we do and helping us to become better.
As I think of my individual work I can think of useful and useless too. For example, I said no to a number of learning endeavors this summer because I did not think the endeavors would result in deeper or better work since the endeavors were organized in ways that would require lots and lots of detail work with little fruitful result. On the other hand, I did sign up for the MTA Summer Conference's advocacy course since I want to learn how to advocate better to improve schools and services to students--this is work I'm passionate about and know that I can learn more about to be better. This is useful to me.
In the days ahead as I forward my study on my own and with others, I'm going to be thinking more about useful vs. useless--those are good words when it comes to making right choices for where we invest our time and energy to improve our professional efforts and craft.