Spinning My Wheels

I love my job (well…most days!) and the work that I do. As a school leader and curriculum coordinator, I enjoy planning units of inquiry with our teachers, hearing about the students’ learning, insights, comments, and action, and further developing the curriculum. The meaningful work energizes me, spurring me on to do more and do better than the day before. But lately, the tedious things, the stuff that has to be done to keep a school running (especially during a pandemic) has worn me down.

I’m busy all the time, but I don’t seem to make any headway on my big projects or the stuff that really matters. The hours are taken up by administrative tasks, such as finding cover for the sick teachers who are out, creating and adding to the daily bulletins, making schedules for this or that, editing reports, EMAILS!, and the list goes on. Not to mention we are still hiring for next year. While finding the right people for our team is crucial to our success next year, the time it takes to sift through applications and search for candidates online, correspond with said candidates, interview, and follow up with references is incredible. More and more I feel like my calendar, inbox, and head are overflowing, leaving little room for much else.

I have ideas and plans and hopes and aspirations, ways to make my teachers’ lives easier and the curriculum more engaging and robust. But when can I get to all of it? I’ve never been the best at prioritizing. I tend to put out the fires right in front of me, rather than stepping back to see if this is something that really needs my attention right now. As I looked ahead at the calendar today, I realized there are only two and a half months left in school. Two and a half months!!! But I have way more than two and a half months worth of work left to do.

I know I need to take a step back, look at the big picture, prioritize what has to get done, what I would like to get done, and what simply won’t get done, and make a plan for the rest of the year, but when do I have time to do this? My problems aren’t unique. Many of us (okay, most of us) in education feel this way; there’s never enough time to do it all. Is there anyone out there who’s figured it out? Any words of wisdom or magic pills you can offer up?

5 thoughts on “Spinning My Wheels

  1. Erika

    I have to admit when I read posts like this it is somewhat consoling- it is not just me that is feeling the overwhelm. I think deciding what to leave out (for now) has to take priority so the must do list can get done well. Good luck!

  2. Suzanne

    Your lament is real and heart felt. I am retiring this year, after 37 years teaching, in part because of what you describe. It’s a big shift that you will learn to manage, but you will need to invest time to figure it out. You are beginning brilliantly by listing the issues. Now find the items you have the most control over and start there by figuring out how to improve your workflow. Let go, for now, of the things you have minimal control over. It won’t happen all at once but it will happen. Things will improve. It will happen because you care.

  3. Terje

    You are right that in education and leadership, and in educational leadership, there’s always more to do than a day allows and there aways unexpected things that demand attention from your planned to-do list, and the nagging feeling of “It’s not enough” keeps visiting. What sometimes helps is to focus on what you have accomplished, the small steps of success, forgiving for the things not accomplished and accepting that sometimes good enough is better than perfect. Probably the most important thing is to remember to breathe and take time for yourself to have the energy to continue. Hugs to you.

  4. Fran McCrackin

    I feel for all of us in education these days but especially anyone dealing with administration. I hope it helped a bit to spell it all out. And you didn’t mention contact -tracing! What a time. I hope you can make time to listen to children (they will restore you) and have some small inquiry experiences with teachers, even if the big ideas are on hold sometimes. Mentor someone who needs it. I know you have already thought of all these… best of luck and at day’s end, you know you did what was possible and a little more.

  5. livinglife816287820

    Hi there, I really feel for you, but not sure I can offer any solutions, because it does sound super overwhelming. I agree the admin required for teachers is out of control and sometimes plain ridiculous.
    However, I just heard this teacher I follow on instagram suggest if you are feeling overwhelmed, to do a reverse of a planner list and every time you accomplish something you write it down and make a list of stuff you HAVE done and at the end of the day, it may just give you a sense of having done more than you thought!
    Not sure if you want to give it a try, but it might help!!


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