13 February 2015

These Are the Days of Our Lives

I thought my days as a classroom teacher were full to overflowing---working with students and colleagues, planning lessons, grading and feedback, communications with parents, school and district committees and meetings...not to mention trying to find a spare moment to use the restroom, choke down a sandwich for lunch, or pretend to have a personal life.

I can't say that working life in the district office is any different this year, although I don't bring home a head full of students every evening. Here's a snapshot from one of my days this week:

  • 6:30: Arrive at the office---a late start for me
  • 6:30 - 8:45: Eat breakfast at desk; pull data for various requests across the district; meet with support staff; check-in with colleagues and supervisor on various projects and initiatives
  • 8:45 - 9:00 Travel to meeting and check-in
  • 9:00 - 1:00: Participate in regional conversation about new assessment and technology needs and eat lunch (not at desk...for once)
  • 1:00 - 1:10: Drive back to office
  • 1:10 - 1:30: Meet with principal to discuss possible solutions for kindergartner and fourth grade attendance issues
  • 1:30 - 2:00: Meet with superintendent to review materials for board meeting presentation
  • 2:00 - 3:00: Meet with community partner about data project connecting student needs with community resources
  • 3:00 - 3:45: Prepare for next meeting about mentorship opportunity for CTE students
  • 3:45 - 4:00: Travel to meeting
  • 4:00 - 5:00: Mentorship meeting...last chance to clean up details before March 5 event
  • 5:00 - 5:30: Travel back to office and pick up dinner
  • 5:30 - 6:45: Eat dinner at desk while catching up on paperwork, filing, and email; pretend to work on upcoming ASCD presentation; pull files and pack bag with information for tomorrow morning's first meeting away from the office
  • 6:45 - 7:00: Set up for school board meeting presentation
  • 7:00 - 7:45: Attend and present at board meeting; respond to questions
  • 7:45 - 8:00: Travel home
  • 8:00 - 9:00: Talk to colleague about upcoming work
  • 9:00: Get ready for bed...next meeting is at 7:30 a.m.
I won't claim that such a schedule happens every day, but more often than not, I'm in my office from 6'ish a.m. to 5 p.m., much of that time occupied by meetings or other needs driven by others. But it is also a job where people appreciate my thinking and what I can offer in terms of skill and knowledge. I am needed...and I also have the authority and responsibility to support change. This makes all the difference.

It is the craziest job I have ever held in education. It is busy and loud and lived on the run...and I absolutely love it with all my heart. I drop down exhausted into bed every night with a smile on my face. I am working harder than I ever have for any other job, but with only 10% of the stress.

I have given up on feeling guilty about not having enough time for other things. Obviously, I haven't spent a lot of time here this year (and not as much on Twitter, either). It has been a whirlwind first six months on the new job. I am grateful for the little snippets of text exchanges with friends that remind me that there is an outside world...and also for Amazon Prime that delivers most of my shopping and keeps me set with basics like deodorant and shampoo.

It would be easy enough to shake my tiny fist at the lack of balance in my life...to blame the demands of others (both inside the district and outside) on being overworked. But I think it's better to just hold tight this year for the ride. Next year, once I know the ebbs and flows of the various programs, I can make some different choices. I know I won't be honeymooning with the job forever.

For now, however, it's a grand romance.

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