Masking your busyness

Every once in a while I revisit older posts I’ve written to see if they still resonate or if I’ve changed my thinking.  I thought of this one today on busyness written almost 18 months ago:

Our culture is obsessed with being busy. When’s the last time you asked someone about their job or life and they didn’t use the word busy? It’s worn like a badge of honor. To even hint you might not be busy, conjures up visions of laziness and lack of ambition. As we plan various activities and events for schools, I’ll often hear, “that’s a busy time for schools”. Tell me when it’s not a busy time? That fact that everyone is busy should be a given by now. It’s almost akin to breathing. Should I preface every statement about my current state of existence by stating that, “I’ve been really breathing lately….consuming a lot of oxygen.” I’m trying to stop acting like I’m so busy and telling everyone how busy I am. No one really cares and it’s nothing worth talking about. Telling folks about how busy you are creates too many negative images. Talking about busyness does not usually leave the impression you love your job. I do love my job so maybe I don’t think of myself as busy. My job is to support teachers. When a teacher asks for my support, I figure out how to help. I don’t need to remind them how busy I am because they’re just as busy. I want to give people the impression that I have lots of time for them. They need to feel relaxed and I’d like to alleviate some of the stress they might be feeling in their daily grind. Life and work shouldn’t be taken so seriously. Relax. I’ve worked with some great people that I know were extremely busy but always had time to chat with me about work, life and I dare say it, even fun, non-work related stuff. I think this is the type of classroom we ought to be creating. One where teachers have lots of time to work with students and there is less a sense of panic and mayhem and more one of calm and reflection. Is this possible? I don’t know but I’m going to try and avoid the word busy to describe my work and life.

I still believe this.  There’s no question I have a way more flexible schedule that a classroom teacher. Part of what many see as the bane of student learning, is the pace at which we feel classrooms ought to move; high energy, constantly switching gears and never lingering too long on any activity. While there are benefits to this style, it also tends to create busyness. Busyness, in this model makes reflection difficult. The sense of frenzy that so many of our classrooms exude, certainly makes it hard to foster conversations in a relaxed, unhurried environment. Certainly curriculum demands and scheduling are the enemy to this.  I’m wondering, are there teachers who at some level have figured this out or is this a lost cause or pipe dream? Is there a teacher out there who works hard to mask their busyness?

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  • Dean masking his busyness here:

  • Outside the classroom, away from the kids, busyness takes over. I am too busy to answer emails, remember lunch dates, contact a sick friend.

    But in front of the children, time is different. Writing and rewriting is more important than finishing in one quick period. Finding another method to solve a math problem takes precedence to doing one more page. Spending three weeks on a social studies simulation far outways the need to forge ahead in the curriculum.

    After so many years in the classroom, I have finally come to realize that more is not more. Less really is more. I can no longer spend my time going a mile wide and an inch deep. My students deserve a chance to learn. So I give them the time.

  • Lisa,

    Very encouraging. I’m wondering if there’s a correlation between this concept and teachers who are living the “guide on the side” model. (not a big fan of that term but it’s a quick marker to describe this)

  • Interesting idea, Dean. Never really thought about it. But the teachers I know who worry about losing time do tend to lecture more than I do. In fact, come to think of it, that is their main method of teaching…even in elementary school. “No time,” they say, “for all the fun projects.” They lose sight of the fact that learning takes place through those “fun” projects.

  • Sage on the stage vs guide on the side
    STARK contrast of 20th century learning vs 21st century learning

  • Connie Cossar

    I think this is such a reflection of our society in general. I am no longer in the teaching profession, but whether I talk to my old colleagues or my colleagues in my current profession, everyone is SO busy and tells me how it isn’t going to get any better because of one issue or another. I like the idea of making sure that people see you as available (I work in HR) even though you are really busy. It is one of the qualities that I greatly admire in my current manager – his door is always open.

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  • Busyness is a way of life,,,,, if we allow it. I will say that having 8 children does make one's life busy – but one doesn't have to allow it to control you, your attitude or, for that fact, your life. It's all about making decisions and deciding what is a priority. If being busy is a priority, then that is how your life will be. I do know that there are days when life is hectic but there are also days when there's time for books, baths, sledding, colouring, listening to music, playing games, watching a movie,….. enjoying the wonders of having children. Yes, life can be busy if we choose for it to be that way. Because, in the end, it is all about choices.