Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Planning and Prep Valued and Prioritized

The seesaw of school life. Image credit
This morning I reviewed a list of students sent to me. I noted a number of changes. That meant a lot of change to my prep work for the year ahead as I had already created a number of lists to lead our efforts to teach well.

Change is a constant in school life, and flexibility is a needed criteria for any good teacher.

Yet, sometimes I wonder if the time for preparation and planning is valued enough in the school environment? Do the systems account for the time and effort each change takes.

For example, our team got together to plan a really great orientation for new students. If I had known about these new students with lead time, I could have invited them to the event with lead time. Yet, perhaps these new students signed up for school yesterday, or perhaps the administrative staff in charge of changes was on vacation during the sign-up, and was unable to share the information. I don't know, and again, flexibility and an openness to change matters.

As one who likes to plan and be prepared, I have to constantly revisit and strengthen my flexibility muscles. I have to say to myself, does this make a significant difference with regard to the big picture, and how much time and advocacy does every small unexpected change deserve. Most teachers flow with the changes that occur, they bounce from one unexpected event to another. Good parents do that too--we all know that young children are often quite unpredictable as is the world around us, and it's how you navigate the path that's more important than sticking to a strict script or plan.

Once again, I think what matters is a good balance between planning/prep and flexibility. As much as possible we should plan and prepare well, and communicate those efforts to all stakeholders with lead time so we can do a good job. Yet, we have to be prepared for the constant flexibility that schools demand since we work with students, families, and lots of other people, and people-work requires good flexibility.

This is the seesaw of school life--one that good teachers embrace.