Tuesday, March 26, 2019

When Your Plate's Too Full

A small illness was the straw that broke the camel's back this week. Why did such a small matter create havoc?

It created havoc simply because I filled my plate too full and didn't leave space for needed quiet and unexpected events.

In limitless jobs like family and education work, there's always the chance that you'll take on too much and overfill your schedule. We all have to be mindful of this problem, and work against it. When your plate's too full you end up wasting time with fretting and stress over the problem rather than doing the good work possible. No one can do it all, and when that plate is overrun, you simply have to take somethings off.

How do you decide what stays and what goes?

For me, taking the long view helps to make decisions about what stays and what goes. I can ask the question, In ten years, what will I be happy that I stayed with, and what did I let go of that won't matter at all. This kind of questioning makes the "what stays and what goes" question a lot easier.

At school, what clearly stays is the following:
  • positive relationships with children
  • positive, engaging learning experiences
  • collegial collaboration and support
And what goes, or better put, what gets put on the "do this later list" includes:
  • greater curriculum depth and growth--there's time in the summer to grow the curriculum more
Though there's three months left to the school year, almost every day is already planned. There's little deep planning to do now and lots of all hands on deck student-centered work to carry out. Putting curriculum changes on hold at this time of year means you have the time to really dig in and work with students on all the programming planned--good curriculum programs that hold promise for students' learning/teaching days. 

As far as family life goes, it's much of the same. There are good events planned, and plenty of daily work for all of us in these spring months. Hence it's not a time for new, but instead, a time to carry out the plans made. 

The year for a teacher like me generally flows like this:
  • summer: a time for big ideas and developing the curriculum program
  • fall: putting the finishing touches on the plans while beginning to embed and finesse the plans made
  • winter: final planning, finessing, and continued teaching/learning
  • spring: lots of teaching and carrying out the plans and some logistical work for the following year. 
As the year moves forward, one's energy begins to wane too. It's the residual effect of a busy year of teaching and learning that tires teachers out by the late spring. Then summer brings renewed energy for new ideas, development, and the new year to come.