The 80/20 Rule

April 24, 2013 at 4:52 am Leave a comment

What is the 80/20 rule to you?  Do you prioritize your day by what’s most important and spend 80% of your time focused on that, while 20% of your time is spent on less important things? Here’s a thought I came across while catching up on some professional reading, how you spend 80% of your time and effort should directly align to your vision, if it doesn’t then maybe you need to rethink what you’re doing. As my colleague and I constantly ask, What are we doing and why are we doing it?  This is our mantra and it should be every educators’ because we don’t have time to waste.  I say this not because of a test we need to prep for, but because our society moves at a very fast pace and our students need to keep up with that pace.  Time is a precious commodity that we are constantly trying to get more of, especially in classrooms. I’ve recently been thinking about this A LOT, because I sense the frustration and exhaustion of teachers when I visit schools. Are we spending our time wisely or are we just spinning our wheels asking for more time from our colleagues, administrators, and  students that they can’t give us?  

I have 2 suggestions for re-thinking how we spend our time in schools. Here you go:

1) Follow the 80/20 Rule: Spend 80% of your time on what matters most, what aligns to your vision, and what is at the core of your business.  Otherwise you lose sight of what you value. How you spend your time and money conveys to others what you value  most.  What do you value most in your school? 

2) Flipped Classrooms: I recently researched this idea and learned more about it myself and was I surprised to find out it was more than just telling students to watch a video for homework.  The basic concept of the Flipped Classroom is aligned with the 80/20 rule.  In general, we currently spend so much time in the classroom directly telling students what to learn, how to learn, and when to learn that they never actually get the time to learn.  (80% of our time is spent lecturing/directly teaching). In a flipped classroom this idea is reversed, the lecturing is done via a video created by the teacher (preferably) that students watch for homework and then the learning happens when they come to class and are immersed in authentic learning, questioning, and collaborating with the teacher and other students. While I don’t think this  model is appropriate for all lessons or grade levels, I do believe that beginning in upper elementary, say 3rd grade, students, parents, and teachers can benefit from this model. If doing the learning is what we value most, then we should be giving students 80% of class time to do it.  Shouldn’t the time students have with the actual teacher be spent on the  most valuable aspect of learning? I guarantee no student has ever said, “Mr./Mrs. ________ helped me listen to lectures like no other teacher could.” But I do know first hand that students have said, ” Mr./Mrs. ________ really made me think by asking me questions that helped me understand what I was doing.”

I offer every educator who reads this blog this challenge…. For 1 week, take note of what you are doing 80% and 20% of your time spent with students! 

I cannot physically provide you more time, but I can help you find more time by reflecting on how it is spent. 



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Kristen Hahn

April 2013
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