Sunday, July 12, 2015

Becoming Unshakeable - Part 1

Are you stressed just thinking about the coming school year and all the work you know it's going to bring?  Check out Unshakeable by Angela Watson  I'm reading this book for the month of July and participating in a Facebook Book Club with over 2500 educators.

Here are some of my Aha moments and takeaways from this week's first 5 chapters, as well as some practices I'll begin implementing in the coming school year.

Chapter 2 - Allocate your time and energy wisely through productive routines.

I needed this chapter.  I am completely unbalanced when it comes to work because I'm passionate about teaching AND because all of my kiddos are adults (got a late start on becoming a classroom teacher) which means I actually have a lot of extra time to pour into my classroom.  However, this hasn't translated into using those extra hours time productively.  I am so easily distracted by a new idea or strategy or straightening up something that I often don't get done what needs to be done to help my classroom run more smoothly or take the stress out of all the paperwork that teachers are buried under daily.

New plan of action
1.  Set hours of AM/PM hours of work (outside of teaching/school hours) and stick to it!  When it's time to leave, leave.  So often, I justify staying late for an extra hour just to get something done, however, in the long run, I'm still leaving work stressed about all the work I didn't get done.  It's simply better to leave and be done for the day knowing that tomorrow is another day.  Also, this will allow me to gain balance with all other aspects of my life: family, friends, just relaxing, and some professional development - it's not going to happen if I'm always wrapped up in school work.

2.  When I'm at work, have a plan for my work hours (again, those that are outside of the school day of 8 am - 3 pm).  This means I'm going to plan to grade writing most mornings for an hour - this is one of my most procrastinated tasks because it takes so much time!  It's just not good for me to do this after school because I'm tired and already thinking about what needs to be completed and set up for the next day.  I find inputting grades to be mind-numbing, so I'll do that after school - then I can leave with a sense of accomplishment.  Those mid-day planning periods - I'm going to reserve for prep and grading - to be honest, I don't have many in the week, but I'm determined to make those 30 or 45 minute windows of time work for me.

3.  Someone shared about the 43 Folders System and after I googled it and watched a youtube, I thought it would be perfect organizational system for me, especially those pesky papers one must keep track of.  Basically, it's manila folders numbered 1 - 31 for the days of the month and 12 folders for each month.  You simply put each paper that needs to be addressed in the day/month folder that you need to deal with it.  For example, if I have a teacher observation on September 21, I would put the corresponding paperwork in that folder and come that day I know exactly where it is. Of course, I've already thought of a way to tweak it and I'm going to add my revolving subject lesson folders to the system. 

Chapter 3 - Establish healthy habits for bringing work home and decompressing.
To be honest, I decided that this first part is just not going to happen.  My goal is to leave work at work and I have done that for years.  The problem is that I was working 12 hour days most days - like I said, totally unbalanced work/life. I'm sticking to my rule, I'm just planning to work 9-10 hour days = balance for me. 

I have a pretty good exercise habit - I LOVE Jazzercising and do it at least 5 days a week, but there are more habits I would like to incorporate, such as blogging and it's only going to happen if I leave work earlier!

Chapter 3 - Determine how to do what really matters and forget the rest.
Now this is a hard one I think for most educators because so many things matter.  For me, this is translating into a complete educational philosophy revision, in particular regarding homework.  Homework has become stressful for all involved: students, parents, and teacher.  There are many reasons, some of which I agree with and some I don't, but the reality is that I need to make a substantial change in this area. In addition, this will free up my check in/grading time which will allow me to spend more time with my students.

My goal is to concentrate on life-long learning habits all students should be incorporating into their lives and throwing out the rest. 

I'm sure I'll be revisiting these goals, but I found that if you have a plan then there's a chance for change.  And change is needed!


  1. I love your blog! Seems like we both started our blogs in parallel recently, what a coincidence! I like how you are establishing a concrete action plan based on what we read in the book study, keep up the good work:)

    1. Michele, thank you for the encouragement. Yep, I'm want to implement these ideas that were spurred on by our book club adventure. I just hopped on over to your blog, read it and was inspired - love the carpe diem!, and became a follower!