Tuesday / April 23

Time Managed When Time Matters Most

A classic, high-powered muscle car came to a screeching halt at a country crossroad. The driver shouted to an old fellow sitting on the front porch of a run-down house: “Can you direct me to Falls City, sir? I’m lost and I don’t have much time.” “No I can’t,” the elderly man replied. “Then which road to Karnes City; can’t you tell I’m losing precious time?” the driver asked. “Can’t rightly say,” answered the old timer. “You don’t know much, do you?” asked the young man sarcastically. “No, I don’t know much,” replied the old man. “But, I’m not the one who’s lost and wasting valuable time!”

Sometimes it seems school principals are lost when it comes to finding time to properly administer the instructional program in ever-changing schools where technology is continuously advancing, and the digital age seems to surpass everyone with each ticking second. Principals ask for directions but all too frequently find themselves bewildered, overwhelmed by the daunting task of playing catch-up and running out of time, in a world where keeping all the plates spinning, lest they topple, leaves a campus leader with nothing more than an afterthought – “I guess I’d better pick up the shattered pieces.”

You think to yourself: “Life as a school leader has to be more than picking up the shattered pieces.” Then you reflect: “I don’t have time, and even if I did, I don’t know where I’m going!” When it comes to time, and the act of managing time for self and the benefit of others, remember this: “Sometimes I have to forget the time lost, appreciate the time that remains, and look forward to making the best of the time that is coming.” In reality, isn’t that what every principal desires?

Listed below are just a few of the many ideas, recommendations, time-tested and proven strategies from The Principal’s Guide to Time Management: Instructional Leadership in the Digital Age

  • Structure time by establishing priorities. Make lists, set goals, understand your daily cycle, and use technology. Ignore technology and rob yourself, your students, and your faculty of a most requisite teaching, leading, learning, and time-saving tool.
  • Speaking of technology, use time efficient apps such as Wunderlist 2, Tom’s Planner, Evernote, Wiggio, Google Calendar and Documents, SMART Meeting Pro, Christie Brio, ThinkTank, MeetingSphere, Monsoon Anonymous, yaM [yet another Meeting], Remember the Milk, Todoist, Toodledo,,,,, Twitter, Facebook, Teacher Kit, Survey Monkey, Permission to Use, Qualtric, Kaboom, ClassDOJO, HipChat, JIRA, Bitbucket, GitHUb, Heroku, Zendesk, Mailchimp, EduphoriaPowerUp What Works, MyLifeOrganized, Skype, Google Hangouts, DropBox, Mind42, Toggl, Day One, Adobe Connect, CrossLoop, ShowMyPC, Yugma SE, etc.
  • Use asynchronous collaboration (real-time chat, instant messaging, electronic whiteboarding, etc.) tools. They are flexible, convenient, and time-saving.
  • Get a handle on paperwork, hard copy or electronic, by throwing it away, deleting it, or delegating it. Act on it immediately or file it temporarily or permanently.

Managing time can be a daunting task. Statistically, 70% of Americans fail to effectively and efficiently manage time. We certainly understand the issue of time and are sensitive to its many constraints. As former school administrators who have extensive practical experiences managing time in service as instructional leaders in the digital age, we’ve “been-there and done-that.” We hope to provide you with the necessary skills, relevant information, and functional tools needed to promote and incorporate time management, instructional leadership, and technological ideals into real school applications.

Now, reflect back to the opening paragraph and contemplate: “If you find a roadway with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” Excellent words of wisdom. Know where you are going and know how to get there, in a timely fashion. Enjoy the trip!

Written by

Richard D. Sorenson, Professor Emeritus, is the former department chairperson of the Educational Leadership and Foundations Department at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). He also served as the director of the Principal Preparation Program. He earned his doctorate from Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi in educational leadership. Dr. Sorenson served public schools for 25 years as a social studies teacher, principal, and associate superintendent for human resources.

Dr. Sorenson continues to work with graduate students at UTEP teaching school-based budgeting and school personnel. He was named The University of Texas at El Paso College of Education Professor of the Year (2005), and he remains an active writer with numerous professional journal publications. Dr. Sorenson has authored textbooks, teacher resource guides, and workbooks related to elementary and secondary social studies curricula. He conducts workshops at the state and national levels, and he has been actively involved in numerous professional organizations, including the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA), and the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP), for which he conducted annual new-principal academy workshops the previous 12-years.

Dr. Sorenson continues his research agenda in the area of the school principalship, specifically the examination of conditions and factors that inhibit and discourage lead teachers from entering school administration. He makes time each day to exercise, walking 4 to 10 miles, depending on how industrious he feels!

Dr. Sorenson has been married to his wife, Donna, the love of his life, for the past 40 years, and they have two adult children, Lisa (a second-grade teacher with Cypress-Fairbanks ISD in Houston, Texas) and Ryan (an Exercise Physiologist in El Paso, Texas), a wonderful son-in-law, Sam (a petroleum engineer in Houston, Texas), and two grandchildren, Savannah Grace and Nehemiah Timothy – all of whom are the pride and joy of his life. Rick and Donna reside in El Paso, Texas, on the U.S./Mexico border, with their home facing the majestic Franklin Mountains. Of course, the Sorenson family remains a lover of Pugs, most notably one Little Bit (wanna go?), and Olive (wanna snack?) too.

Richard is the author or co-author of four Corwin books: The Principal’s Guide to Time Management, The Principal’s Guide to School Budgeting, The Principal’s Guide to Curriculum Leadership, and The Principal’s Guide to Managing School Personnel.

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