Good instruction — check. Good classroom management — no problem. Good assessments — you got it.
What I struggle with is time management, task management, and stuff management. Believe it or not, I struggle with what happens when the kids are not in the room. And it spills over to the time that the kids are there, because the non-instructional time includes planning lessons and prepping materials for the instructional time. There is always more that can be done during non-instructional time to improve instructional time.
If I could have an hour of plan time for every hour of teaching time, I would be SUCH a better teacher. But unless I commit to working 12-hour days…well, actually that happens more than I would like.
Which leads me to my second point: I struggle with balancing non-instructional work time with personal time. If I have work to do, I skip exercise, sleep, grocery shopping, housework, hobbies, interests, and worst of all…socializing. (I do not make a good introvert. I need my social time.)
So..the plan. Last year, I focused on small habits that would make a big difference. It was very effective. This year, I’m adjusting it just a bit. Each month will have two goals. One will be something that happens while I’m at school, most likely related to my non-instructional work time, and the other will be something that happens in my personal time. The overarching theme of these goals will be “sustainability”…creating for myself a work atmosphere that lends itself to excellence over a long period of time, rather than forever living in “emergency mode” and focusing simply on surviving the next 24 hours.
For the remainder of September, my first goal is to work from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with rare exception. I am setting boundaries on my time. I could spend an infinite amount of time in my classroom, and my drive and perfectionism would like me to spend all my free time there. In the moment, my perfectionism usually wins, unless I have a bigger picture in mind. It may help me to stick to a schedule for awhile, be efficient and prioritize my time, and leave work at work. This is not a new goal; I’m just getting a head start on it this year!
My second goal is to exercise four times a week. Morning versus evening workouts…not a good battle over the last few years. Run versus yoga versus walking/hiking versus ultimate frisbee with friends…also a battle. “How can I become a ‘runner’ unless I run four times a week? I should give up frisbee if I want to be a ‘runner.’ And just walking won’t help me become a ‘runner’ — I may as well just stay home unless I’m going to run.” It’s time to stop fighting the battles. I really love those four ways to exercise: running, yoga, ultimate frisbee, and hiking. What if I did each of them just once a week? This is a question I’m going to explore for the remainder of September. It would be four workouts — four MORE workouts than just giving up for indecisiveness over what kind of exerciser I want to be! And it feels more sustainable than having a rigid commitment to one type of exercise, and trying to fit the others in as “extra.”
“Keep on pushing back the dark…” This lyric has been in my head as I ponder these goals. Living in emergency mode creates quite a lot of “dark.” I don’t want to live there anymore.