Time to write policies and new processes
This is something that has been in the front of my mind in this unusual situation of setting up a brand new school. There are so many systems we take for granted but when there is nothing there to start with, everything has to be written or made. This takes a huge amount of effort and time and I am only thankful that I am not one of our Senior Leadership team as I know the hours they must be putting in to make sure things are running as smoothly as possible.
Time to set up accounts
Another new school thing – we don’t have accounts at shops! Wanting to buy things for school and then realising we need to set up an account. After many phone calls (by me and others), emails and web searching, I managed to get one set up for one place. I’d forgotten how long that can take!
Time with family and friends
This is something I need to really work on. Work can take over, especially in a school like ours and I find myself having to take a step back and say no. My word for this year is Honesty and I need to be honest with myself about what I can and cannot achieve each day. I do feel at the moment the balance has tipped the wrong way and after the next week or two once I get back from the E2 conference in Toronto (read about last year) I need to right that balance.
Time to travel
Speaking of Toronto, there are so many things that have to be done when you travel overseas. It's amazing. Even though Microsoft have generously paid for me to go to this conference, there are so many things to sort. Insurance, money, gifts, my presentation and the clothes to wear in an average of 3 degrees. Had to buy a winter coat a bit early!
Time to get to know students and whanau
Know your students. How often do we hear this as teachers and yet how often do we really take time to do exactly this? It is so important to have contact with home, to know what is going on in their lives and to make connections. I was lucky enough to have some time to go to a volleyball game being played by some of our students one weekend and it really made a difference to the connection I had with them. Even though they are not in my Puna Ako group, they now say hello to me and tell me about their games and training. Talking with parents and caregivers is vital to finding out what’s happening and although it takes time, it is worth every minute.
Time for yourself
This article about a first year teacher was shared around Facebook and I think it really sums up the pitfalls of not taking time for yourself. Schools are a bottomless pit that you can put all of your energy into. The work will always be there the next day and it is important to take time for yourself. I burnt out as a young teacher and spent a year out from teaching, vowing I would never go back to the classroom fulltime as it was too draining. I am the sort of person who gives 110% all of the time and I gave until I had no more to give. I was enticed back in a part time (0.8) role about 15 years ago and found myself back in a fulltime role over the last few years. I have to continually remind myself that I cannot be all to everyone and that however much I want to do, it is not good for my health. As an experienced teacher, I can finally balance this, but I see so many young teachers struggle with the balance and I fear for them.
I am involved in a few groups outside of school and am the treasurer for two as well as recently being asked to drive another. There is a saying that if you want something done, give it to a busy person. I am sure that saying has my name attached to it, so I am trying to say no more often and ask for others to help out. My family will be pleased to know I am resigning from one of those positions at their AGM (yes, they know, so this won’t be a surprise).
Time to blog
I really enjoy writing my blogs, but I have about 5 half finished ones in draft form that I am struggling to find time to finish. This one became a priority for me as I felt so strongly about not having time to do it! The next one will be about the E2 conference and my time in Toronto, so passion will drive that as well. Otherwise they sit, waiting patiently for me to come back to them and add a few more words. One day, I hope they will be published, but probably during the holidays!
Time to spend planning
Finding time to make sure I am prepared for each day at school is important. When you are reactive to student needs and don’t just turn out a lesson you prepared earlier, it always takes more time. I feel like a first year teacher all over again. Even when you can prepare ahead, starting a new way of teaching means having to rethink and redo all of those easy lessons I used to just pull out when needed. I have the benefit of having the basis there, but the time to shuffle to a new format and start many aspects from scratch is another thing. It's been a really good thing, having to put a new lens onto old work and make it more accessible and relevant to our students.
Time to spend with staff
Last year we were fortunate to have a lot of time to throw ideas around, talk informally with staff from all over our kura and share our thoughts. Now we are all so busy it is difficult to even find time to get to the staffroom. Having a social time to unwind on a Friday afternoon is really important to catch up and just let the week out of your system before heading off for the weekend. I would encourage all staff to do this, either at school or with a group away from school so that you can just have a laugh and unwind from the stress of the week.
I can’t believe we are halfway through the first term and its autumn. Not sure where that time went. As I get older time seems to disappear. I wonder if someone could add another hour to the day?