“I’m dancing as fast as I can.” This was a frequent refrain of my direct supervisor at my previous workplace, an environmental consulting firm. From calls with clients, to responding to requests for proposal (RFP), to reviewing Environmental Assessment (EA) reports that our team had prepared, to overlooking the budgets of all the projects underway, he was a very busy man. Sometimes just one more thing would come his way, needing his attention, and he’d throw up his hands, chuckle and say, “I’m dancing as fast as I can.” He was the final set of eyes for everything related to the provincial and municipal environmental consulting work we did, but as a botanist and later a municipal project manager, I could only nod and smile when he did this. His burdens were his alone to bear.
In my ninth year of teaching high school sciences at an international school, I understand my ex-supervisor better than I did when I was right there with him. There is never enough time to do all the things I want to do, or if I can fit them all in, I am completing them with a lesser degree of quality than I would like. I suppose it’s my own fault for preferring to do everything to an exceptional standard, but that’s only a part of the problem. Take for example my having agreed to guest moderate tonight’s #mnlead Twitter chat. The questions are all prepared, I have decent graphics made with Paper by 53 to go long with them, but this weekend is and has been nuts.
The first progress report of the second semester is drawing nigh, and I have a backlog of grading to do. This is especially important to get in order because I will be missing the parent teacher conferences that follow directly on the heels of this progress report. Which brings me to another item on my to-do list: Going away for a week to the National Association of Independent Schools Conference in San Francisco in just one week. I have to organize taxi pick up to get me to the airport. I have to call ahead and see if I can book a final night on my own dime at the same hotel. I have to pack. Because I am going to be away I have to plan three different levels of biology lessons for both this coming week, which is almost done, and the next week for my substitute to manage in my absence. If only each class was working on the same thing!
I am a department head (DH) so I have additional duties such as Monday morning DH meetings and one-to-one meetings to discuss electives courses in the wake of the electives selection for the 2016-17 school year. We are also working on the design of a new office of learning, and as I will be located there next year in my new role as Instructional Coach (IC), I am invited to participate in the walk-through and planning of this shared space. I almost forgot that our school is hosting Live Curious, Go Beyond this coming Friday and Saturday and I am presenting twice. I have yet to even start the planning for this, but it will get done. It’s entirely possible I might have to wait until I get to California to have another good night’s rest from here on out.
Which brings me back to this weekend. This weekend was supposed to be a chance to get a lot of these tasks underway and/or completed, especially the grading and conference planning, but my husband has influenza; it started coming on strong on Friday afternoon. I have been single-handedly parenting and completing all the household chores we would normally share. I am not complaining, sick is sick and it’s all important, but I can now say that I completely understand what my former supervisor meant when he said, “I am dancing as fast as I can!” Even more significant, is that I am 100% certain that most other teachers are in the exact same boat with regularity. The specific items on the to-do list might be different, but teachers are often dancing as fast as they can every single day until that one day in the summer when we don’t pick up a summer professional development book to read. Thankfully, every day is a fresh start.