I’m too busy…

Adkins blogged

For the past few months, I have played around the edge of the new
philosophers. I have been reading their blogs, listening to the podcasts,
reading the books they recommend, joining their Ustreams, and even observing the
Twitter conversations about everything from baseball to new uses of technology.
I have been an observer and an active participant. . . .

I wish I could Twitter and Plurk all day too.
I wish I could research
blogs and contribute to the online conversation like they do.
I wish I could
Ustream and connect with this global philosophy shift in live streaming.
wish I could participate in their witty and fun conversations and travel tips
they share all day and night.
I wish I could get online and ask for
participants from your district because mine…well..they gave up on listening to
me months ago because I am “too far out there”.
I wish I could read all those
books you all talk about and listen to those podcasts while I get ready to take
on a new day.

But I can’t. I have to work.

To which I

[Y]ou know what?, I have a job too. I’m director of a national center, a
postsecondary instructor / researcher, and coordinator of the Educational
Leadership program at a major research university. Like most of us, I’m
unbelievably busy. And, yet, I find time to do some of this stuff also because

So we have to recognize the time challenges that people face. But we can’t go
around saying that the issues are insurmountable because they’re not and because
if we believe that then our K-12 teachers (and postsecondary instructors) get a
free pass to ignore the societal revolution that’s swirling around

What do you think? Head on over to Joel’s
and let him know…

18 Responses to “I’m too busy…”

  1. I understand the point: work is changing and what PD/growth/learning means today is much different than yesterday. At the same time, why did you have to belittle this person’s reflective commentary with your title and accomplishments? Could your point have been made in an equally poignant way?

    Sorry, I like your ideas, but I am not a fan of this type of connective writing.

  2. Scott,

    I’d like to ask your advice on a few points. I am a real person and will happily pass on Facebook links, etc. or a CV to verify.

    I’m thinking my life’s work may be turning to educational leadership–being a principal.

    I am 45, have had a successful career, am now running a major training organization and finishing my PhD (dissertation on leaderless organizations) in globalization at Virginia Tech.

    Would appreciate an email so that I can ask a question or two.

    Thank you,


  3. During an average school day, I sit down once every six hours. That’s lunch. Which is thirty minutes.

    I’m just saying there are different kinds of busy. I don’t doubt you’re busier than I am, Scott, but I don’t have difficulty believing your work has you in front of a computer, a command-tab away from a blog interface or RSS reader, far more often than mine does.

    Same goes for anyone else whose job invokes the term “technology.” There are barriers for classroom teachers which they don’t share.

  4. Joel, what are talking about? Not enough time to grow professionally? Struggling with your community because “they gave up listening to you months ago because you are ‘to far out there’?” Give me a break. Who among us isn’t “A” busy, and ”B” occasionally wondering what elements of our leadership ability is left to draw from to move to improve instructional practices that will impact learning? We all are too busy. We are all sometimes frustrated.

    Brother, if you’re throwing in the towel, it’s all on you. Put it on nobody but yourself big guy. Whether you are a Chief Academic Officer, Principal, Superintendent, or assistant thereof, quit wishing for something that is clearly inconsistent with your responsibilities (with leadership) and get on with actively participating in professional learning communities and leading your local educational community. Or, succumb to the rigor of your work and slide into mediocrity. I see too many hit the wall and splatter – then quit.

    Hang in there Joel – or get out so someone else can lead change.

  5. Actually Jeff, I should have been clearer about that comment. That one isn’t reflective of me. I recently had a discussion with a colleague who expressed that she felt out of touch with her own staff. She made the statement that she was “too out there”.

    I will clarify on my blog about that as I see someone else made the same comment on that statement. Really, I just started in my new job last week so the only “out of touch” feeling I have is just because I am out of touch. 😉

  6. Scott, I’ve got to say that it is a comment like the one you are making with this blog post that helps to separate educators rather than bring us together.

    Scoffing at a colleague because they are frustrated? Because they have a legitimate concern in the face of rapid change that, as so many have blogged, just doesn’t seem to be ‘taking’ as we might like to think it should?

    Or am I reading too much tone in your, ‘[Y]ou know what?, I have a job too.’

  7. Scott:

    I agree with you. We have to make the time if we are going to keep abreast of the new and emerging technologies. In both our own professional development and if we are going to implement them in our classrooms and teach these tools to our students, we must find the time.

    I know that everyone is busy, has a hectic lifestyle with all sorts of demands on their personal and professional time. Teaching is not a spectator sport but if we as educators are not willing to put forth the effort, how can we expect our students too.

    For those who don’t think they have the time set up a Personal Learning Environment such as a Netvibes account or other aggregate reader to keep up to date on one’s own interests.

  8. @Willy, @Tracy Rosen, and @Joel: My apologies if my remarks came across as snippy. Regular readers of mine hopefully know that I try to be kind and supportive of everyone. I dashed this post off really quick in the Des Moines airport. If I hastily chose language that seemed too ‘over the top’ in this instance, I’m sincerely sorry.

    My main point: we’re all busy. Joel’s busy, I’m busy, you’re busy, everyone’s busy. There’s never enough time to do everything we want. So we have to make some choices about how we spend our personal and professional time. I’m not judging how Joel or his colleagues spend their time, but it is true that many practicing educators – who have the exact same jobs as those who say they’re too busy – are somehow finding time for this. So almost always it’s less a matter of not having time and more a matter of reallocating the time that’s there.

    WE FIND TIME FOR THOSE THINGS WE THINK ARE IMPORTANT. I think transitioning into the digital, global 21st century is important, so I find the time. I know Joel does too, and I hope we can get more folks on board sooner rather than later.

  9. @Dan Meyer: What are you doing even commenting (and Twittering) today? Aren’t you getting married in just a few days?!

    Good point that some of us have jobs that put us in front of a computer screen more than most K-12 classroom teachers. Of course you and many other teachers also find time to do this stuff. So it can be done.

    I’m not in favor of teachers or anyone else getting a free pass on transitioning to the 21st century because they’re ‘too busy.’ It’s not a forward-moving ideology and we simply cannot afford to take that stance as educational organizations. I AM in favor of helping teachers and administrators understand how to reallocate their time differently. I’m a big fan of the idea of prioritized abandonment (even if I’m still a learner in that area personally).

  10. Oh, and one more thing… My regular readers also know that I often will utilize a somewhat challenging, ‘devil’s advocate’ approach to highlight issues, spark discussion, etc. Usually it seems to work, sometimes it doesn’t. I appreciate those of you who let me know when it doesn’t.

  11. I’ve never met an educator who felt there was enough time. There is never enough time. But then again… all we have is time. If anyone here ever reads the publication “Fast Company” you will learn how successful organizations all over the world manage time and change and information and innovation… I just shared

    25 INSIGHTS ON LEADERSHIP FROM FAST COMPANY on my blog: http://kriley19.wordpress.com/. Some of those insights really match the challenge that Joel and the rest of us face with managing priorities and opportunities. Here are a few examples:

    • Be Generous With What You Know. “Knowledge sharing is the basis of everything. Share knowledge with reckless abandon.”–Tim Sanders, chief solutions officer at Yahoo

    • Embrace Imperfection — Fast!. “Beware of perfect people. They will never propel your enterprise to greatness. They’re too cautious. You’ve got to be fast to be good.”–Dick Brown, chairman and CEO of EDS

    • Stop Whining — Start Seeking. “In these times, it’s important to find the opportunities in the disruptions rather than just to lament the change.” –Rob Glaser, chairman and CEO of RealNetworks Inc

    • What’s Your Bottom Line?. “People over 65 were asked, ‘If you could live your life over, what would you do differently?’ They said three things: ‘I’d take time to stop and ask the big questions. I’d be more courageous and take more risks in work and love. I’d try to live with purpose — to make a difference.’ You don’t have to be an elder to ask, What’s my own bottom line?”–Richard Leider, founding partner of the Inventure Group

    And my favorite…

    • Laugh at Yourself. “Just when you think the sun shines out of your butt, all you have is an illuminated landing area.” –Nolan Bushnell, founder, chairman, and CEO of uWink Inc

    Granted, it takes more than cliches and quotes to lead an organization to greatness. It is a mindset. Not even the limitations imposed by time can prevail against a group of people insistent on creating transcendent change.

    “You’ve got to be fast to be good.”

  12. Scott, I have been a regular reader of yours for over a year now and I do appreciate the sense of urgency and passion that comes through when you write about learning. There are times however, like in this post, that it just doesn’t work for me.

    The key, that I have been returning to over and over again since I began writing and thinking about this on the web about 2 years ago, lies in my gut reaction to:

    “WE FIND TIME FOR THOSE THINGS WE THINK ARE IMPORTANT. I think transitioning into the digital, global 21st century is important, so I find the time. I know Joel does too, and I hope we can get more folks on board sooner rather than later.”

    My gut reaction has to do with the intricacies of finding time for what we think is important. We need, as educators – not as advocates of digital technologies – but as a group of educators, whether we use tech or not, to find ways to sit down and have conversations about what is important to us.

    It’s not a matter of getting folks on board this ship or that ship so we can take off already. Let’s stay grounded and lay some roots so we can grow.

  13. Tracy, I agree. That’s why I said that I’m a big fan of helping educators understand what they can abandon in order to make room for this stuff and it’s also why I spend so much time working with schools rather than hiding away in the ivory tower. Thanks for your thoughtful contributions and your feedback.

  14. Joel:

    Congratulations on your new position. Thinking of all of the benefits that on-line dialoguing has for our professional learning, the implications of students participating in structured on-line experiences are tremendous (see for example: http://www.teachertube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=79778e9f140b78621d7f). I set up a blog for the parents of the 1200 students I serve as well and went live with it last week. Now we can talk about school in a way that enables parents to connect with their child’s middle school outside of the confines of our brick and mortar, and at a time that better fits the demands of their family and work schedules (see: http://parkviewms.wordpress.com/). Resist letting the events of the day, over time, distract you from sharpening and refining your vision for high performance teaching and learning.

  15. “Of course you and many other teachers also find time to do this stuff. So it can be done.”

    My sickness doesn’t (and shouldn’t) scale. Expect my online output to drop significantly after Saturday, when I’m no longer a single guy grilling a quesadilla in between planning and blogging sessions.

    How do you see a family-(wo)man-teacher’s time better allocated?

  16. I agree with you, Scott, even if you were perhaps a little hard on the guy. Isn’t it a responsibility of a teacher to stay abreast of world news and issues by reading a newspaper regularly? Isn’t it a responsibility of a teacher to do professional reading to continue to grow in his/her craft? Don’t we just take these things for granted and wouldn’t most teachers agree that this is just “what we do” whether it’s on paid time or not? Well, add maintaining a professional learning plan via RSS, blogs, etc. to the list. I think it’s just part of what it means to be an educator in the 21st century. Like you said: it’s important so people have to find time to do it. Perhaps it will supplant some of that newspaper and professional reading time, which is just fine with me. Same activity, different (better!) medium…

  17. I’ve got a confession:

    Twittering makes no sense to me. Far as I can tell it’s got only two purposes…. chatter site and promotional tool for professionals in a field. Why would I want to self select a 24/7 commercial so that I can twitter that I love my dog or green tea? Unless I have professional content to pass on that will get clicks to my site or improve my name recognition, twittering for me is just being audience. Why bother? I probably need to sharpen up my professional goals here, but until I do… I can get enough information from reading few selected bloggers in my feed.

    Maybe Joel Atkins isn’t twittering because he’s prioritizing in his own life and has decided that there are many things to do on the planet that are more important and more enriching than twittering into the void. On that note, instead of twittering, I am going to take my dog for a walk to the lake where he can swim and we can run together in the tall grass.

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