I’m a Horribly Inefficient Teacher

I’m a horribly inefficient teacher. Honestly. I look around at what other teachers do, and I’m amazed at their productivity and efficiency. They get so much more done than me. It makes me embarrassed at just how inefficient I am as a teacher. I hate to have to admit it but it takes me literally hours to plan courseware, projects and assessments.

I’d be a whole lot better if I just resisted the temptation to reinvent everything each year. Can you believe that I’ve been teaching now for over 25 years and I still haven’t really latched onto the idea that I could simply teach the same thing, in the same way, using the same resources that I used the year before. I see so many other do that, and it makes perfect sense. I mean, you’d think that sort of efficiency should be obvious to any reasonably intelligent person, right? Why am I so thick?

For example, I spent many hours today designing a new project for one of my classes. I thought my idea for this project was a really good one, but I’d never done it before so it meant creating a whole new bunch of digital resources, thinking through all the new workflows and how they might be implemented, pondering the best way to assess the work that the students would do, and just generally wasting a whole lot of time trying to come up with something that, let’s face it, is untried and untested. It would have been so much simpler just to reuse the same old projects that I’ve used previously. If I was really smart, I wouldn’t just use them once… no, I would be making sure I reused those same projects over and over for several years… that would be the be truly efficient and smart thing to do. Think of how much time I would save! I’ve seen people teach the same thing in the same way for 20 years! I’m just in awe of that kind of efficiency!

I think my problem is that I keep imagining that there must be better ways to teach, better ways to help my students learn, better ways to make connections between the content I need to teach and the interests and motivations of this year’s group of students. I foolishly let myself get distracted by all the new things that happen in the world from year to year, and I allow my mind to wander aimlessly into new and untested territory; trying new tools, new approaches and new content. Its so damn wasteful. There are just too many shiny objects out there, that’s my problem. I should learn to focus and not keep reinventing the wheel.

But I’m too old to change now. Unfortunately, I think I’m just destined to remain a horribly inefficient teacher.

CC BY-SA 4.0 I’m a Horribly Inefficient Teacher by Chris Betcher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

8 Replies to “I’m a Horribly Inefficient Teacher”

  1. Thanks goodness there are ‘inefficient teachers’ like you in the learner’s lives! How awful to come to school and KNOW that project/lesson/whatever because it’s what you brother or Aunt Elizabeth or Grandmother did when s/he was in Mr. Reuseit’s class!

    Keep reaching for the ‘gold ring’, or is that the ‘shiny object’. Your students may also actually learn, not just occupy seat time. …and who knows, one of them could be the next great thinker inspired by that one teacher in school!

  2. I wonder how this post rings true to many educators. Sadly, probably too many. And you know what, Ive done this before myself in the past. Lack of time is not an excuse for bad teaching.

  3. Great. I’m not the only one out there. I am a perennial first year teacher, always inventing the wheel, never satisfied, always seeking a better way to teach, worrying that others seem to be more efficient, but somehow unable to change my ways.

  4. What a wonderful post! I think one reason I am still in the classroom after 53 years with no thought of retirement is always reinventing the wheel. How many teachers can say they get up every day and can’t wait to get to school? Where else can you the teacher learn something new every day when you are open to what each student needs. I bet you are one of these teachers. May you never change!

  5. When you blogged that you are “destined to remain a horribly inefficient teacher”, this should be replaced with “destined to remain an innovative and inspirational teacher”. This is what you are!
    Jo Villis

  6. How i wish one day i wud call myself “horribly inefficient teacher”… and that too in your perspective…All the best for making a difference in the teaching methodology….

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