Fiddle-Farting Is More Fun Than Working

This week my job really got in the way of my educational fiddle farting.

136 unreasonable bosses

I was sitting in the doctor’s office this this week, when one of my former teachers sat down beside me and asked if I was playing hooky from school. Of course my immediate response was “ummm… um…umm… yes sir… but but I have a pass right right…right here… it’s okay”. Even if your teacher has been retired for 15 years, they apparently still have the authority to ask for a pass if you’re not in class. He and I were talking aging and parenting, and he commented “You got to get retired so you have time to go to all your doctor’s appointments”. This week that felt particularly true. While most people have one boss, or maybe two bosses that may show disdain for taking a day off of work, I have a very nice boss for which it wasn’t a problem,  However, I also have 136 bosses 14 to 17 years old for which my lack of attendance was a cardinal sin. Especially since this week is the end of the quarter

Ever seen a cat chase its own tail?

It seems this week that no matter what I did, I could not catch up. part of that problem is of my own making, part of that is life, and part of that is the cumulative anxiety of 132 teenagers attempting to meet, or subvert, their parents’ expectations.  I got that last test in days before the end of the quarter, but then commences a new process this year of assessment-re-instruction-reassessment as we move to something that more closely approaches mastery. As a department, we have implemented this process for all of nine weeks, and there seems to be some real potential.  We are seeing some some real learning benefits, but right now it’s just a real pain in my PATOOT.  Every free moment from the time I hop out of my car in the morning, to the time I get in my car to go home late, has been packed full of students conferencing, relearning, or reassessing. The jury is still out, although early returns are good, that the process will be effective but nevertheless every spare minute was filled up.

Keeping the BIG picture in mind

Friday was also the end of early registration (Lord knows we won’t pay full price for PD)  for a large teaching conference that has historically been productive for myself, our school building, and District as a whole.  Making the most out of this professional development means carving a few scheduled minutes out with other building leaders to determine a singular focus on the grander scale that we would like to address, rather than just stomping at the daily fires that pop up daily in every school.  Each year it also requires shaking the right trees to find the money for hotel and registration.  Finally, it requires encouraging/cajoling/convincing staff that would benefit, that it will be worth the trouble and inconvenience to be absent two days both personally and professionally. To be clear, I’m not paid to do those things, but I do those things because I care about the general direction of my workplace, the people in it, and I’m constantly reminded that it’s not just the job of instructional coaches social workers and principles to think about the school as bigger than the four walls of my classroom.

And now for the fiddle-farting

Finally, I have been recording a couple episodes of a new podcast that I’m getting ready to launch that needs edited.  @flipping_A_teacher says I have to do a blog each week or I don’t get an imaginary made-up digital badge, so that becomes a priority. I have a conference my non-profit hosts in June, and maybe one in August, that needs planning.  Even then I haven’t even gotten around to working in another week or so ahead of the kids in the new digital resources process that I’m using this year in my classroom.  My job is really stifling my creativity and encroaching on my fiddle-farting time.

I can be an adult…if I have to.

Moral of the story, in every job there are things we have to do, there are things we should do, and there are things that we want to do.  There is a limit as to how many activities we can pile in a day without shortchanging our family or ourselves. Audacity makes podcasting edits easy.  Deltamath and Kuta make portions of classroom planning, practice, and reassessment more tolerable. Google speech-to-text allows me to write my blog on my daily walk. And my Samsung S7 tricorder allows me to squeeze every minute of my day doing something productive. Inevitably some things will get done, some things won’t get done, and some things will get “done enough for now”. In the end, that’s the story of both teaching and learning.  It is the story of prioritizing and working as efficiently as we can, to do the best we can for ourselves, our students, our employers, and our families.  With that I’m done blogging, and we’re headed to the pumpkin patch because I need to see how tall my boy is this year on the “pumpkin stick” and get myself some kettle corn.


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