I like to have empty drawers because it helps me to prepare for unexpected items or need for space. Similarly I like to have empty slots on my calendar for the same reason. I like to be ready for the unexpected.
This week two unexpected and troubling events occurred--in both cases I feel fortunate to have the time and capacity to deal with the situations. That's not always true. There have been times when unexpected events have occurred and I have to rely on others to take up the slack and be there for me. At those times, I didn't have the time, energy, or ability to help out because others needed me more.
At best, especially as educators, we have to prepare for the unexpected. I learned this with particular strength when I was balancing teaching with parenting babies and young children--their needs were often unexpected and I had to sometimes call in for a family sick day with advanced notice. During those years I learned to stay about a week ahead with plans so that I was ready. With older children, that's not as much of an issue, but with aging family members, that issue rises again.
What does it mean to be prepared for the unexpected? It means having, if possible, a bit of extra cash on hand in case you need it. It also means having a week's worth of school plans ready too--those plans can cover those stand-alone units that can be taught at any time of the year. It also means keeping your schoolroom up-to-date and easy to work in. That's not always easy when you are dealing with lots of materials and teaching tasks, but it's important.
Staying ahead and being prepared for the unexpected is not always possible, but when possible it certainly brings a sense of relief and preparedness so you can attend to the situations that arise with your best energy, care, and contribution. Onward.