What is Your Watch? #TeacherMyth

I started last school year with a watch that had a dead battery.

All day long, my watch showed it was 11:11.

I told myself I’d get it fixed. It wouldn’t take much time. It wouldn’t cost a lot of money. It’s not even terribly inconvenient. What would stop me from fixing that which I knew to be broken? 

I made plenty of trips to and from places that could have fixed my watch for me. And still my watch does not have a new battery. 

So why, a full year later, am I still looking at this watch that has yet to have a new battery installed?

In short–It’s a lot easier to realize something is broken than it is to change in response to that realization. (That’s even true with something as small as a watch battery.)

The watch isn’t the way I tell time anymore. I’m rarely away from my phone (that’s another post, but not the focus for today), and there are clocks in most every meeting room is be in otherwise. My watch no longer serves its original purpose.

It looks right, but it’s broken. I was able to wear my watch every single day for an entire school year without actually needing it. What’s more, nobody else noticed it was broken either. 

WHAT IS YOUR WATCH?

I wonder if there are other things like that for us. Things that look right, but with a closer look, might actually be broken. Maybe they don’t need to be tossed out, but they’re no longer serving they’re original purpose.

A few things spring to mind, but I’d love to hear from you: As you prepare for the new school year, ask yourself this: What isn’t serving its purpose anymore? When you have a few answers, what will you do with those things? What are the biggest changes you feel you can make in these areas?

(For this post, don’t say testing. There’s plenty to say about testing, but standardized testing is here for another year. It’s certainly something worth thinking through, but I don’t want us to miss the things that are closer to us, the things we have much more power to change.)

WHAT DO WE DO NOW?

I’m still wearing my watch (and I still haven’t replaced the battery). Past the fact that it was a gift from my wife and I just like it, that watch has become a reminder for me of our need to be routinely reflecting on what’s working, what’s not, and what’s giving a false appearance that may be fooling us.

I’d like you to think through what your “watch” might be before you go. Think through these questions and consider what you can do to identify your watches as the new school year begins. 

  • Sometimes things look like they work until we take a closer look. What isn’t working like it should? Is there anything that is still taking up your time that no longer serves its purpose?
  • The routines we adopt as the year begins will stick with us throughout the year. What do you need to add to your routine to make this a great year? What needs to be removed from your routine? What do you need to keep telling yourself throughout the year? What do you need to stop telling yourself this year? Where is there rest built into your weekly school routine? 
  • We educate in a world that is rapidly changing. Norms from long ago are not always the norm today. What are you doing this year that you weren’t doing 5 years ago? 3 years ago? Last year? What are you doing to challenge yourself to move past what you’ve always done? 

I hope you spend a few minutes reflecting on your practice with these questions. I wish you nothing but the best of luck as you begin the new school year!


If you like what you’re reading here, consider checking out my book, Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth. The book highlights six truths that will help you THRIVE as an educator, including one–Imagine It Better–that discusses how we can and should disrupt the status quo in education. Read more about the book here or find the book on Amazon

3 thoughts on “What is Your Watch? #TeacherMyth

  1. Jim Calvin Reply

    Thank you for painting such a vivid picture of what “program evaluation” is to be. As I reflect upon my time in classrooms, I believe our “watch” is reading. I know that we are investing large blocks of time and energy to improving reading yet our results aren’t always what we desire for all students. By taking a closer look, we may be missing/rushing passed key aspects of the reading process that could make the difference we are seeking.

  2. Christine Grafe Reply

    This is great, Aaron! I’ve revisited and revised my classroom rules this year thanks to a post from fellow art teacher Cassie Stephens. Rather than my traditional do’s and don’ts, my new “rules” focus on positive mindset goals. I also revamped and redecorated my classroom to have less clutter, more color, and just a few positive mindset reminders. It’s been a breath of fresh air for me, and I hope it will be for my students as well!

  3. Jane Trotter Reply

    I’ve learned to use the archive button in my Google Mail! In my home, I’ve learned to touch my “snail mail” once so why not do the same with my massive email box? It’s greatly reduced my email time and, at this moment, I have less than 25 emails in my inbox. I will archive most of those emails as soon as I complete this post and skim over all that do not require a reply. Thanks for the post, Aaron. The watch provides great imagery. I’ll remember this!

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