Monday, July 11, 2016

Setting Priorities and Goals

I mentioned a few posts ago that I'm a yes girl. It's really hard for me to say no, especially when it comes to stuff that will let me play an active role in the changes going on in my district. I'm pretty positive.... scratch that, I'm absolutely certain that some people believe that I participate so often because I'm bossy, want things done my way, and have a big mouth. I hate that I come across that way, and I'm really working on fixing that (although I guess some people's perceptions will always be the same no matter what I do), but in my heart I know I do it because I want us doing what's best for kids.

Because of my tendencies to get involved in everything, I have definitely overextended myself at times. This has left me feeling overwhelmed, and I've often felt like I can do a few things great while leaving other things in the dust. To cope I rotated the things that were done well and the things that I slacked on in the hopes that eventually I'd do a good enough job at everything to keep having my voice heard.

A couple of things happened that have started to change that.

First, I have a new life. It sounds kind of dramatic, especially since I didn't have a life-threatening illness and nothing horrible has happened to me, but I really do feel like I'm living a totally different life since my divorce. As such, I actually like being at home.

Second, through no choice of my own, my teaching assignment has changed. When I moved to my new school 5 years ago, we were pigeon-holed into teaching only Social Studies and ELA or STEM classes. But after one year, my close friends and I recognized all of the transitions were horrible for our kids. We proposed that two of us would switch back to teaching all four subjects, and that proposal was accepted. It was fantastic to offer kids stability during a huge transition, and I still feel like it's the best thing for kids. Unfortunately, that program has ended, and this year I'll be teaching only math and science. While I'm trying to look at the positive and see this as the opportunity to ONLY focus on two subjects, my heart is breaking because I know kids will struggle this year because they have too many teachers and too many transitions throughout the day.

Third, I have stepped down from my position on the math curriculum committee. I was tired of being blamed for our grade level's poor PSSA scores. I was tired of being judged as somebody who couldn't lead a group of teachers. I was tired of being told one thing in one situation, and then being told in front of the group that the initial discussion never happened and I was wrong. While my learning during my time on the math committee was tremendously valuable, it wasn't worth some of the other situations I was dealing with. So I decided that it was time for a fresh set of eyes to take a look at things.

Fourth, I continue to read through Unshakeable by Angela Watson, and in it she reminds us that it is okay to say no. She encourages her readers to set priorities and goals. Obviously everybody wants goals to move towards, but Watson suggests using them as a framework for saying yes. If something meets your list of goals and priorities, say yes to it. If it doesn't, say no. People who care about you will understand the no, people who don't will judge you. But they likely would judge you no matter what, so it's always better to keep your well-being at the fore front of your mind.

So, here I am wanting to have more time at home, starting to only teach only 2 subjects, taking a huge responsibility off my plate, and learning more about setting boundaries. It seems like it would be simple for me to create my list of priorities and goals.

I have no idea where to start. Lofty versus manageable. Professional versus personal. Short term versus long term. Just like everything else, I'm making a list of priorities and goals that is way longer than is reasonable. So now I need to throw everything out on paper, really look at them, and think about what I really want to do this year. Decisions, decisions.

What are your priorities and goals for the upcoming school year? How do you limit them so that your time and actions can be meaningful and purposeful?

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