Times are very different at the moment. The world has been turned upside down as a result of COVID-19. Sanitizer, face masks and keeping away from people has become the norm. It’s isolating. It’s lonely. We are missing much of the connection that we’d otherwise have. Despite this, it has helped me to reflect on my teaching. It’s helped me to discover what’s ACTUALLY important in my role and what is simply ‘busy work’ which makes me feel like I’m making great progress. I’ve put together a list of the four things that COVID has taught me to cut out of my life and boy am I going to cut them like paper in a Kindergarten classroom.
1 Doing things that aren’t actually worth my time.
Ever caught yourself mindlessly scrolling through Teachers Pay Teachers or another teacher resource website, only to find yourself still doing it an hour later? Thought so!
I don’t even want to think about the number of hours I’ve lost searching for the ‘perfect’ resource. So I’m going to stop doing it. Setting a time limit on resource finding is one of the most simple yet effective ways of getting the job done and still having time to binge your favourite Netflix series.
2 Going to Every School Event Ever
If you’re new to teaching and are searching for a permanent job, skip to number three. The last thing I want is for you to miss out on a permanent job because “Nathan told me not to do it!” For everyone else, it’s time to consider which school events are necessary to attend and which ones you can wave ‘bye bye’ to. Teaching takes up enough of my life without all the added extras. My family deserve that time with me, so I’m going to give it to them.
3 Running on the Hamster Wheel
I’m not talking about exercise. I’m talking about those little tasks that you do over and over and over again that are basically useless. About a month ago, I realised that I was in a rut. An email rut! I was checking my work emails practically every opportunity I got. Lunch break? Emails. Pause in conversation? Emails. Waiting for the coffee machine to finish making my third shot of espresso for the day? Emails. The dopamine shot to the brain every time I got a new email message was clearly wreaking more havoc than the coffee shots were. When I finally realised that emails were the wheel and I was the hamster, I stopped. Now it’s twice a day. Just before school and just after. That’s it. And guess what? Practically none of the emails I received required a response at all.
4 Overcomplicating everything
We are teachers. For many of us, overcomplicating things is what we do. We come up with a million strategies and solutions to each tiny problem, spend three hours thinking about why each solution may or may not work, go and ask our colleagues what they think and then go back to the start and repeat the process all over again. I once worked with a teacher who made her way around the staffroom for three days asking practically everyone she came across whether a certain Math question should be included in the assessment she was creating. This literally would have resulted in about 2.5 hours of discussion about one question. I’m not saying to not ask for help or feedback, but sometimes we need to back ourselves, go all Nike and ‘Just Do It!’
Making these four simple changes are probably going to save me hundreds of hours this year – time I can spend looking after my family and myself and doing other things that actually matter. What’s your plan of attack? What are you going to toss to the trash? And what on Earth are you going to do with so much extra time?
Come and Join me at the National Education Summit Brisbane where I will be presenting in the Wellbeing for Future Focused Schools conference on 4 & 5 June 2021.
Photo by Pawe? L. from Pexels