This fall has cleverly disguised itself to me as Super Storm Sandy. I knew there were wicked forces on the horizon capable of  unsettling things, but I was overly confident I could weather this storm.  Unlike Super Storm Sandy, it didn’t come on suddenly.  After a series of weeks, it was clear that there was a wide-swath of  life was disheveled or dislocated as a result of these forces, and honestly, my failure to keep an eye on the horizon.

The good news is, human beings are remarkable resilient and we (umm…let’s own this – I) am capable of putting back the pieces once I recognize the fall out.  Life is full of ups and downs, unpredictable surf and stuff that spins out of control.  It can be touch to walk the middle-ground and equanimity is something that takes a lot of practice. It was time to draw upon a bit more equanimity and balance.

Conventional wisdom tells us not to make too many changes all at once but I did. A couple of weeks back, I read Jonathan Fields piece When No Means Go bringing clarity to why the guy is an entrepreneurial mastermind and why I sometimes feel like a novice juggler. I totally agree with his criteria for saying “yes” being based on alignment with values and goals and your own personal bandwidth.  That seems pretty obvious, right? But how many of us actually do that? I had neglected to say “no” to a few things and lost sight of priorities.  And now I was paying the price, thrashing around in the sea.

After feeling that doubt and frustration, it was time for action.  Taming the schedule and managing the expectations shifted gears.

The shifted in part due to a sweet and striking picture book by Peter Reynolds (illustrator of the Judy Moody series and the wildly popular “Ish” and “The Dot” and owner of  The Blue Bunny Bookstore in Dedham, MA).  I love when a good children’s book is the force that calibrates me back to a more productive, sane, and mature life!

If you don’t know “So Few of Me,” here’s a glimpse:


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So Few of Me is a tale of an over-scheduled, multi- list-making, over-worked boy on a journey to get it all done. Of course, that’s not just a tall order, it’s a tall tale. Life’s list never really ends, but we have the power to be ruled by the list… Or to put it down — and dream.

From Peter Reynolds, author of So Few of Me

Once I got a revived handle on managing my workload and schedule, it was clear that I could do a better job helping my students. Tweens who are developing the self-governing skills necessary to manage their work and schedule need our support and encouragement to do so.  If I thought my transition to new work settings and responsibility was a challenge, what about these kids – those new to middle school and all the many facets that come with a ginormous step into adolescence?   Ego had to be set aside. Ahisma, empathy, compassion came first, followed by modeling, practice and reflection  to help these busy workers manage their work, stress and schedules.  I had to be a better model for them and coach them on the skills and strategies they need.

How do you schedule your time to accomplish your tasks and goals?  Do you schedule some time to dream and be like Leo in So Few of Me?   Stop back next time to read how this translates to work with adolescents.

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Lisa Dewey Wells

 

2 thoughts on “So Few of Me and So Much To Do

  1. Wow! Your title just grabbed me. You spoke the words I am feeling right now. We are teaching in a time where the pace is set at breakneck speed. Not only for us teachers, but our students as well. Also the curricular demands and new evaluation systems tied to student performance certainly compound my overwhelming feelings. Teacher efficacy, for me, has sorely suffered. Way too many days I have consciously had to whisper–just breathe–breathe in, breathe out. So Lisa, thank you for reminding us from time to time we have to “get a handle” on managing the workload. This is my week off for Thanksgiving and my highest hope is to rejuvenate my spirit so I am ready for my first graders ‘ exuberance! I always appreciate your insights and perspectives to help me (and others) stay balanced!!!

  2. Gayle – We’re all in this together. It’s so easy to think “it’s just me” or to blame ourselves. For me, stopping to pause is a way to let go of some of that stress we lump on ourselves. Hope you have a restful week and give thanks for all the great stuff you nurture in your first graders, your school and in all those whom you touch!

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