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The Teacher or the Self?

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New Year's is, of course, a time to reflect on Self. Formal resolutions aren't required, but time to look back and the willingness to look ahead are. Last year I wrote about using a notebook to keep track of all my "to-do's". That system has worked well for me. Everyone at my new school knows that I carry a red notebook -- and if they ask me to do something, they ask me to write it in the notebook. That way they know I'll see it again, and remember to actually do the task. I'm spending time today looking through that notebook to identify any tasks that I did not complete. I want to take care of those things early in the new year.

I've bought a new notebook for 2008. There's something about starting fresh, with white pages. It's like the first day of school all over again. I'm ready for new tasks.

I bought myself something else to carry with me this year - a small notebook calendar. I already have a planning book for class, and a school schedule book, both of which live in my "teacher bag". But those are for school, and fill up with meetings and paperwork deadlines, assignments and assessment dates. The squares fill up with time for students, other teachers, administration. I realized that calendar did not have much time for Self.

My new calendar is for all those other things that get lost in the daily rush. I'm writing in the fun things I want to do. I'm recording important family dates, such as birthdays, my daughter's graduation date this May, holiday celebrations. I am also scheduling weekend events. I'm planning museum visits, movie dates, lunches with friends. I'm planning my vacation this summer. In keeping with my resolutions, I'm scheduling in exercise and meditation times.

I am realistic, so I know I will have some work to do on the weekends. But It is so easy to let that work time take up most of the day, so that no time is left for other things. So I am trying to shape that into small blocks -- 1-2 hours Sunday afternoon.

Now I am adding something else to my new calendar. I keep talking about school as "work", and of course it is my job, and it is work. But teaching is my vocation, and I want to celebrate and recognize the "fun" of the job, too. So I am including on my personal calendar some celebration times at school, too. I am writing in Friday "team points awards" for Language Arts class. What a great way to finish the week! I am noting my department meetings, where we share our successes. I'm noting workshops and seminars I'm attending, because professional development is refreshing.

I'm not sure my new system is going to work that well, because now I see that the Self and the Teacher overlap a lot. Perhaps they can't really be separated, but both can be strengthened and balanced. So my resolution is to celebrate and enjoy both -- and focus on not losing the Self in the Teacher.

I wish you great joy in 2008. Celebrate!

5 Comments

I just came upon a missing link for me in my effort to keep the personal and professional life organized. The To Do list didn't cover it all...like you said, you need a place to capture birthdays and other things to keep on the radar.

I've expanded my To Do list, and it has a section for personal, professional, and a list of items I need to borrow or buy. After that, I have a section for long term items to keep on the radar...this if followed by a TQM check chart to tally, check or write in amounts of daily expectations be they personal or professional.

I've recently added a daily highlights area so that I can jot quick notes and blurbs that act as bookmarks for daily activities, lest I forget....because as the day wears on, I do.

Finally, I have my reading/vocabulary log at the back, so that I can add my articles and chapters while on the run.

What has been helpful about this is that each week when I go to revise it on the computer, I am forced to reckon with each item, and therefore it is not forgotten, but prioritized.

Just yesterday, I decided to add two sections: Tidbits, and Updates. Tidbits will be for nuances I need to remember that have come via e-mail (like that my friend's favorite lunch meat is Roast Beef, or that she needs to find a book on Writing---one that I need to find, then lend her...which will eventually go on the to do list). Updates, are just that. Calendar changes to make, or address, and name changes, or the birth of a baby to a fellow staff member....these are just the places to temporarily house this.

Each week I print a revised copy and add and delete by hand, and this keeps me up to date....then I file it in a three ring binder in case I need to refer to it for any reason.

This weekly planner has been evolving and will continue to evolve....thanks for giving me a few more things to think about...I'm going to find a way to work the calendar piece in more meaningfully, because it will be helpful. Thanks!!

I just came upon a missing link for me in my effort to keep the personal and professional life organized. The To Do list didn't cover it all...like you said, you need a place to capture birthdays and other things to keep on the radar.

I've expanded my To Do list, and it has a section for personal, professional, and a list of items I need to borrow or buy. After that, I have a section for long term items to keep on the radar...this if followed by a TQM check chart to tally, check or write in amounts of daily expectations be they personal or professional.

I've recently added a daily highlights area so that I can jot quick notes and blurbs that act as bookmarks for daily activities, lest I forget....because as the day wears on, I do.

Finally, I have my reading/vocabulary log at the back, so that I can add my articles and chapters while on the run.

What has been helpful about this is that each week when I go to revise it on the computer, I am forced to reckon with each item, and therefore it is not forgotten, but prioritized.

Just yesterday, I decided to add two sections: Tidbits, and Updates. Tidbits will be for nuances I need to remember that have come via e-mail (like that my friend's favorite lunch meat is Roast Beef, or that she needs to find a book on Writing---one that I need to find, then lend her...which will eventually go on the to do list). Updates, are just that. Calendar changes to make, or address, and name changes, or the birth of a baby to a fellow staff member....these are just the places to temporarily house this.

Each week I print a revised copy and add and delete by hand, and this keeps me up to date....then I file it in a three ring binder in case I need to refer to it for any reason.

This weekly planner has been evolving and will continue to evolve....thanks for giving me a few more things to think about...I'm going to find a way to work the calendar piece in more meaningfully, because it will be helpful. Thanks!!

I, too, am a very busy educator! I'm now a grandmother for the first time and am really taking a close look at my priorities and my time commitments.
I only have one life and one calendar! I schedule all of my personal and professional events in one place and sinc everything on my PDA. It helps me keep balanced and much more aware of how I spend my precious time. Here's to a more balanced 2008 for all of us!

Yes, teaching is more than a job, it's a vocation--a calling. I have been called into this profession. Remembering to listen for The Caller daily will sustain me in times of despair and desperation. Thanks for the reminder!

I love your blog...I'm currently in the middle myself. My passion is working with adult learners to impact their learning and student achievement. Right now, I am patiently waiting to found out if my new position will be funded that will allow me to do just that!

I had to leave the classroom for this position and reading your blog helped me put that into perspective...it's time that I celebrate this new beginning and appreciate what I have been given...the opportunity to still work within my passion, education.

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