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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Realistic Schedules: Time for Health and Family

Educators are known for giving multiple extra hours to the profession. While giving extra often results in good, positive work, it can also take away from health, friends and family, and this is not good.

As educators face multiple schedule decisions, it's important that they retain the time they need for their families, friends, and health.

How can educators do this?

What's Required?
First, it's important to consider the schedule of required time/expectations and the time where you give extra. How does the "extra" positively contribute to the work you are able to do for students, and where is that "extra" not needed or unnecessary? For example, many educators in my system give extra time for legally required meetings. Those meetings can and should be scheduled during the school day as it is part of the required job. If teachers ask that those meetings are scheduled during the school day, they will buy back time for initiatives they're devoted to and time for family, friends, and health.

Necessary Needs
It's also important to consider needs related to health, family, and friends. Some health needs require more time, and educators have to decide if those needs require school year time or summer time. Sometimes it's easier to have a health need met during the lazy days of summer, but if you have babies or small children, it's often better to meet that need during the school year when you have day care in place. This choice will differ depending upon who you are and what your personal schedule are expectations are like.

Strategic Use of Lead Time
Further using lead time to plan well with colleagues helps. For example, I recently reached out to administrative colleagues with regard to next year's schedule related to homework clubs and a number of student supports. If we could talk about those supports up front and schedule ahead, I could easily make the time for those efforts. However, if the efforts are scheduled without teacher voice and at the last minute, it will be much more difficult to support the efforts. With good lead time and teacher voice/choice, efforts end up fitting well into educators' personal/professional schedule as well as their desire to partake in work that makes a positive difference and work that is successful. Last minute, exclusive initiatives generally result in less success and investment.

As I work with families, students, colleagues, and other learning community members, I want to be mindful of the issues above as we work together to craft the best possible teaching/learning supports and efforts to serve every child well.

What Good Awaits: Choosing Well

Change has the potential to create disruption, yet change can also spell positivity too.

Change is a constant, and how we embrace that change matters.

As I think of a large number of changes ahead, I think about the good that awaits.

Ethical Practice and Effort
One change I see occurring is a greater emphasis on ethical practice and effort. This change has been mirrored in greater transparency and strategic process in many areas of professional work and effort. This ethical practice replaces hearsay and conjecture with truthful conversation and process which, I believe, will eventually result in greater distributive leadership and positive practice. Essentially to practice this ethical effort, one has to "walk the walk" and erase conjecture and hearsay from his/her conversation, and embrace open practice with a critical eye on betterment and optimal collaboration with others.

In real time this means not accepting statements that do not have merit or substance. It also means following through with promises and positive acts. Further, this ethical work demands owning error and learning from it as well as continued advocacy and collaboration for best possible process, support, learning, and teaching.

Choosing Well
As I've mentioned before, this year I signed on to a large number of professional events that taught me a lot, but were definitely not my preferred learning/teaching activities. It's important to choose well for who you are and what you want to accomplish. I had to step down from a number of these efforts as the time the efforts demanded were beginning to have an affect on my chosen work which is my day-to-day practice.

As an educator my number one priority is the work I can do with and for children as well as the systems and learning that bolster and support that work. I am truly committed to the question of how we can better schools and education to serve children well. This question holds tremendous potential for individual children, communities, our nation, and world. It is future making work that matters, and work that I'm passionate about. It is essential that I say no to work that doesn't directly match this aim, and yes to work that supports this work well. I wish I had the foresight to see this with regard to a few initiatives that I've had to say no to.

To serve children well, we can't lose track of the details. I'll focus in on some of those details today--details related to student portfolios, re-taking tests, goal-attainment, and more.

Good collegiality where we support one another in ways that matter is essential to good work at school. What does good collegiality look like? It's that balance of sensitively supporting colleagues at school and in their personal lives as appropriate. It's also working together to create and build programs that support children well. Teaching well also means that this collegiality extends to families, community members, and administrators as well in order to do the best work possible.

Balance and Realistic Expectations
In any work like teaching the potential is limitless and this is where balance and realistic schedules are important. It's important that one continually review and revise expectations and balance to keep it realistic and doable.

Professional Learning
Stepping down and away from a few activities that were going to demand more time than I had, I want to be cognizant of what future efforts I'll sign on to--efforts that support my main areas of interest and commitment: family and students.

In this light, I'm looking forward to doing a lot of reading, analysis, and preparation for learning events, lessons, and opportunities ahead. I'm also invested in working with collegial groups who are invested in improving schools to serve students better.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Clear The Deck

There comes times every so often in one's life when you have to clear the deck, and make time for the unexpected, but necessary events life brings.

It's important to heed that call because if you continue to the norm, you may miss out on what it is you really need to be doing.

Life presents us with these decisions now and then, and it's good to heed the call.