Time can be an explanation or an excuse

Time. Whenever I suggest devoting time to an endeavor, I can’t help but recall a long conversation I had with my mother about 30 years ago. I was explaining to her how busy I was and how many things I thought “should be” done but were placed in the “might do” column on my to-do list. My mom wasn’t real big on why things couldn’t be done. Obviously, she was more interested in why and how they would be done. She shared: “The word time can be an explanation or excuse for just about anything.”

Time is often the subject of personification. Select the word time, add an action verb, and watch the idea become crystal clear. We give the concept of time many avenues to explain our actions. When I asked for clarification of the definition of time, several interesting pairs surfaced:

Time (is your friend/enemy)

Time (flies/stands still)

Time (waits for no one/came to a screeching halt)

Time (has been good to you/is cruel)

Enough said. This list could be endless, but the intent of this article is not to record the usage; it is rather to explore the true meaning behind the rhetoric.

Prioritizing the utilization of time is a skill we teach those around us. Those folks could be students, co-workers, family members or virtually anyone we have in our circle of influence. People are observant. Considering how time is allocated often paints an accurate picture of what we value. One positive activity for learners is reflection: thinking about what went well or what needs work, etc. These exercises in thought allow us to continue what is productive and address the issue standing in the way of progress.

For the purposes of reflection, the end of November brings one of three benchmarks for students, their families and our staff. Reporting student progress reminds us of the importance of reflection. This activity affords us an opportunity to be encouraged, to redirect and to respond in a collection of positive directions. Most importantly, we encourage families to engage in dialogue about what is happening in our schools.

We are entering a transition phase in our district. The end of our first trimester brings a culmination of students’ progress for their first 12 weeks of scholastic achievement. Report cards will be completed at the end of the week and will be sent home shortly thereafter. Please review progress and devote some time to communicating with your student about your questions or concerns. Even if everything is right on track, students appreciate the discussion.

The month of December brings multiple opportunities for students to gain an appreciation for time. In addition, the importance of strategic use of each day becomes a priority. Tightly-packed schedules blend school responsibilities, academic and athletic tournaments, family commitments and more.

Time becomes a commodity. We are asked to invest it, to save it or to spend it. We are encouraged to do so in a thoughtful manner. We see advertisements at every turn. All systems are go, go, go… Almost makes you tired, just reading it.

If my mother were here, she would say, “Let’s all take a collective deep breath. Please remember time’isn’t the true issue; it’s more so the way we choose to allocate it.” Each day, every one of us receives the same allotment of minutes. We will use these minutes to shape our experiences. Please use them wisely; they are non-refundable. Have a great December.

Ed Saxton is the superintendent of the St. Francis School District.

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