CM . . .
. Volume VIII Number 8 . . . . December 14, 2001
Morris wrote 101 Time Smart Solutions for Teachers because, as she explains in the introduction, teaching has become a complex juggling and balancing act that requires teachers to be experts in a myriad of roles: Team member, Colleague, Supervisor, Purchaser, Coach, Manager, Coordinator, Disciplinarian, Researcher, Knowledge Expert, Care Giver, Party Host, Interviewer, Statistician, Organizer, Medic, Cook, Tour Guide, Counselor, Decorator, Technologist, Motivator, Designer, Planner, Evaluator, and Instructor.
While readers might take exception to some of the role descriptors, and her placement of planning and teaching at the end of such a vast list, Morris' point remains. Teaching well in today's schools can be both challenging and demanding. Her goal in writing this book was to give teachers ideas and strategies for coping with these challenges by using time and energy more effectively. The author contends that those teachers who end their school day with a sense of satisfaction, contentment and the time to go on to other enjoyable after-school activities, are teachers who have been able to take control of their day by making time smart choices.
While we can't eliminate those out of control days where nothing seems to go the way it should, and unforeseen events and interruptions leave us feeling frustrated and stressed, Morris suggests that by using her strategies, that anxious, out-of-control feeling can become a rarity rather than a common occurrence.
Her blueprint for taking control is outlined in ten very well organized and easy to read chapters, divided into 101 sub-sections that focus on making time smart choices for a) planning and organizing the classroom, the teaching day and the school year, b) using technology as an efficient information retrieval and management tool, and c) meeting professional development demands, and coping with the especially busy times in the school year. Much like an action research cycle, Morris recommends that teachers begin by taking an inventory of how they spend their time. Then she suggests that they establish priorities that will be fulfilling at both a personal and professional level. This should be followed by setting new goals, recording progress toward these goals, assessing the rate of success and then repeating the cycle.
To help teachers embark on this process, Morris provides an appendix containing an extensive set of planning checklists, time and goal planning tracking charts, must do lists, and master plan charts, that readers are invited to photocopy. In a time smart gesture, Morris even directs readers to set the photocopier at 122% in order to enlarge the images in the appendices to 8 .5 x 11 .
Morris' prescription for teachers who need help taking control of their day will not cure those whose task management problems are the result of either chronic procrastination, overcommitment, excessive worry, perfectionism, or poor delegation. But, if the primary problem is a mild case of insufficient planning, or lack of organization, this book offers some sound, practical suggestions for teachers. Readers who follow her simple step by step procedures are bound, if nothing else, to become more systematic record keepers, have more organized desk tops, and implement more effective classroom routines. Morris assures her readers that by following the specific steps and strategies for good time management in her book, they "can be effective, in control, and still have a smile at the end of the day" (p. 2). Should following the book not produce the desired results, Morris is also available to do workshops on time-smart teaching.
Recommended with reservations.
Renate Schulz is the Director of the School Experiences Office in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.