You know the feeling, right?
First day of school- get to know the students, catch up with colleagues and friends, get into the routine, lunch, back to the classroom, wrap up the day, maybe catch a parent or two, and then… breathe.
Because it’s not over.
Papers to be reviewed, things to be filed, online trainings to watch by a certain day, review IEPs, attend meetings, catch the service providers for their schedules, and keep the lesson planning going.
If you’re not an educator, it doesn’t seem like a lot. After all, you get weekends and holidays and the summers off. It’s like half a job, right?
In his most recent post, Cal Newport talks about how our brains are not multi-threaded and this is important when looking at the context of what an educator has to do. We are constantly shifting sets throughout the day. Math to ELA to special. Grade level meeting. Pick up the students, writing, pack up for lunch, come back and finish ELA time. Don’t forget to send the students to band lessons, support services, and any stops for the nurse. That is, of course, unless there’s a fire drill, bus drill, or CSE meeting.
The day of an educator thrives on you being able to multi-task. From the physical education teacher to the 12th grade physics teachers. From the speech/language teacher to the Kindergarten teacher. Shifting sets constantly. It’s a small wonder the end of the school day feels like the end of a race. Newport paraphrases a quote from David Allen which states that the more things on our mind, the more it takes a toll on our body. There is a cost for what we do in education. Yes, our time at work is “easy” compared to the 112 month employee, but that’s because we are squeezing every drop we can out of youngsters- some who aren’t “ready” to learn.
What to do when you don’t know what to do?
Take one step or do one thing at a time: the year can seem overwhelming. When you commit to one thing at a time, it can be easier. Yes, there will be emails. Yes, there will be meetings. When the moment is there, do that one thing. The emails can be answered and you will eventually get out of the meeting.
In the end, this is self-evident advice. We all work to take our days one moment at a time, but the reality is this: it’s hard to pay attention to one thing when there are multiple demands on our time. Thus, the first step is awareness. Take some time during the day to recognize when you get frazzled. What’s happening then? These observations might open up some additional insights. From there, it’s easier to make a change.