Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Are Your "Have-to's" Really "Have-To's"?

From the March 20, 2006 issue of Fortune Magazine:
You might begin by asking yourself these three questions:

  1. What are you supposed to accomplish in your work?
  2. What do you actually spend your time doing?
  3. Have you achieved wu-wei? (roughly translated as “effortless effort” – a state in which the world seems to be working for us.)

This is part of an article discussing how to do your best work and accomplish what you want to accomplish. I’ll ignore the very zen #3 for now, but I think #1 and #2 are very important for us to think about as teachers. Question #1 for us is really about the purpose of education, what we believe the essential learnings are for our students. A lot of the discussion in our project – as well as in the PLC’s around the building – is revolving around this question. But I think question #2 is really key for us right now. Is what you actually spend your time doing aligned with your beliefs about question #1? I would argue that often it is not. We do all these things we think we “have” to do, even if they don’t really help us accomplish what we want to accomplish. Which of course brings up the question do we really “have” to do these things?

So, I challenge each of you to think about what you actually do each day and then examine how well that aligns with what you want to accomplish. Then see how many of the supposed “have to’s” you can jettison in favor of more meaningful activities (for yourself and your students). Feel free to comment giving examples of any of the things you think you can get rid of (or would like to get rid of but just don’t see a way yet – maybe others can help).


  1. Did you pick this specifically for the 1st day of CSAPing? SO far today, I have done nothing that I think I need to accomplish other than get here on time and clear old email. As far as my interactions with students, I was happy to define a circle that you color in as a "bubble" three times today. While I assume Karl is looking for a more philosophical approach with this question, CSAP has yanked that ability from me.

  2. It seems that so mcuh of do do (hee-he Hatak) and what I want to do don't actually correlate. I am turning in copies for things when I would rather just walk into class and talk to them but yet I know some of the kids (like me, they need the visual). I am running around during my off hours trying to talk to all the necessary people about things I need from them when I would rather be grading so I don't have to stay up so late doing the same.
    I guess the things that I want to see giving up are handouts. I need to find a way to update the handouts that I don't have on my computer or actually look and see if they are even necessary. That is something I would like to give up.

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  4. Again with the do do.....Man it is hard being twelve some times.

    Goals for each day? What an idea.. Karl, your a genius! If I could just get my day to fit my goals...er, I mean if I could just cross one or two things off my to do list and then get to the want list. I think what we need to be doing is looking at a list of values. (That is what you are getting at, right Karl?) If the two are in line, the list and the actions, then I think we are working toward the kinds of days we would like.

    I am trying to clean out old documents and answer emails. Boy, am I behind. Anne, I ask my student assistants to type up my handouts and then I just have to upload them. The issue that I am having is finding the time to set the stuff out for the assistants. I also have made the goal of not taking things home to work on. Since my days are getting more and more full that is getting more difficult. My fear is that I will miss Megan's growing up and then I will still be doing the same stuff. So, I continue to put her on the top of the list along with Sarah.

    I would like to find a way to get rid of daily notes....If I could just get them to read....