43 First Things First

A photo of Robert Prentice
Figure 43.1: Robert Prentice

Robert Prentice

I am not usually well enough organized to prioritize efficiently. I just fight little battles as they come at me. Stephen Covey observed that “most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important,” and I routinely fall victim to this tendency. There is one exception, however, to this general ineptitude on my part – I always remember to put my teaching first.

Doris Lessing had it right when she said, “It is the mark of great people to treat trifles as trifles and important matters as important.”

Late every afternoon, I make a list of the things that I hope to do the following day. Some must get done. I would be delighted if I got to some of the others. Whenever items related to class preparation are on the list, as they almost always are, they get my attention first. This emphasis is not necessarily consistent with the official reward structure at my school. Still, it works for me. I like research and writing. I truly do. But my vision of myself as a college professor features most prominently my role as a classroom teacher. Therefore, teaching always comes first among my professional responsibilities. Doris Lessing had it right when she said, “It is the mark of great people to treat trifles as trifles and important matters as important.”Like others in academia, I have research obligations, administrative responsibilities, and other tasks that I cannot shirk. But in the academic realm of my life I have learned to put first things first. And for me, teaching comes first.

A photo of UT Rio Grande Valley campus with overlayed text reading, "Who was the very best teacher you ever had? What made him or her so impressive? How are you emulating such greatness?"
Figure 43.2: UT Rio Grande Valley
A photo of Susan Doty
Figure 43.3: Susan Doty

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

The Little Orange Book by The University of Texas System Academy of Distinguished Teachers is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book