Saturday, November 13, 2021

The Time I Asked for What I Needed

Hi everyone! It's been pretty quiet on the blog front lately, because:
1) This year is crazy...I can barely keep up!
2) Work this year has been hard, and I'm not sure how to capture it in words.

There are so many reasons that working in education is hard right now - staffing shortages, polarized viewpoints, a wider range of student skills than in previous years, HUGE SEL needs, pandemic fatigue, and I could go on and on. Some of my "hard" is definitely all of this - the whole system is under a huge strain, and it's hitting me too. But, beyond that, I've been struggling with my job - more specifically figuring out what my job really is and how it fits into the system.

Brene Brown says that, "Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind." My job, currently, is a little bit of everything, and it's not well-defined. The problem is that when you don't have a clear job description, your job becomes everything...and THAT gets overwhelming really fast! For the most part, I like the things I'm doing - it's not that I am unhappy with the work itself. The issue is that it's adding up to be so much and I don't have any good way to prioritize or say no to things because I don't really know what my job is supposed to be, and the more that gets added to my plate, the more things are falling through the cracks. Furthermore, specials and electives are rarely focused on in any strategic plan or data it's been hard to see how I (and, consequently, all of the teachers and content areas that I work with) fit into any of it.

Fast forward to this last week. As much as I like to try to be independent and figure things out, I knew I was hitting a breaking point. Even though the holiday breaks would help me, something needed to change. So I took a deep breath and sent an email and asked for time to meet to figure this out. I'm not always good at asking for help, and it definitely took some courage to reach out...but once I did, it was easier to be honest about other (small) things that would help me in the conversations that followed. That whole "clear is kind" thing goes both ways - if there is something that I am looking for, hinting at it is not as effective as just saying it. I'm working on it!

So I'm heading into this next week with some intentional time on my calendar to try to figure out how to manage my workload, hoping that some of the tweaks I asked for will actually take place, and a continuing my mission to figure out how to bring more value to specials and electives in my district. I know it won't be quick and easy and there will be bumps in the road, but I finally feel like I've shared what I needed to and done my part in asking for what I need (yes, it took far longer than it should have). It feels selfish, but it's also a relief! I keep reminding myself that helping me be in a better place as a leader will undoubtedly trickle down to the teachers and students I work with.

My final encouragement is to not be afraid to ask for what YOU need. Reach out. Have courage. Don't just drop hints, be clear. It may be hard, but you are worth it. And it will have ripple effects on the people around you too!

Hang in there, my friends - we can do this!

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