February 14, 2008

Masking your busyness

This post was last updated on September 5th, 2011 at 11:05 am

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?