Why We Shouldn’t Give 100%

Something has to change. Then again, maybe it’s just me.

I am paid a fair salary and my working conditions are good. And yet, it continues to bother me. So, until I make a change, it will continue to happen.

What am I talking about?

I am referring to the physical and mental state I am in when I arrive home each day.

When I walk through my front door, and sometimes before I even get inside, I am greeted by my seven-year old son who excitedly asks me, “What are we playing today Daddy?” Usually he has some type of ball in his hand and he is ready for action. The problem is, I am not. Ready for action that is. Most of the time my response is, “We’ll play later Buddy, Daddy just got home, he needs to rest for a little bit.”

Then my little bit often turns into an hour or two. Don’t worry, we play. But often it’s not for as long as he’d like and it’s not with energy and enthusiasm that he needs. I tell myself that I need to play longer but by the time we get outside and get going, our time together is usually less than 30 minutes. And I feel guilty.

That is ridiculous! I know I shouldn’t beat myself up over this. I mean I just wrote a piece titled You Are a Good Parent and yet here I am. And I do think I am a good parent. But I think I am giving too much of myself to my work. Don’t get me wrong, most educators put in much longer days than I do and most educators, teachers especially, have much more difficult jobs than I have.

But something’s doesn’t seem right. I am giving seven and half plus hours to my job and yet can barely find 20 minutes for my own son? To be clear, I am not giving seven and half hours, I am paid quite well. And I signed up for this. I know. I know. Stop complaining Jon.

This isn’t meant to be a complaint. I am thinking out loud. It’s been on my mind recently and earlier this week I came across a thought-provoking tweet and thread from John Spencer.

I would like to add-on to John’s tweet. Not only do students need well-rested teachers, children need well-rested parents, husband and wives need well-rested partners, friends need well-rested friends and we need well-rested minds and bodies.

Right about now you’re either thinking, Jon you’re in the wrong profession or Jon I feel you. And I respect and understand either reaction. I just know that I can’t continue to operate the way that I have been for years. It’s not healthy, it’s not fair to my family and it’s not fair to me.

Here comes some pushback. But Jon, what about the students, staff and parents that you are paid to serve each day. Don’t they deserve 100% from you every day? How can you give them less than everything that you have? You gotta go all in.

No I don’t.

And neither do you.

And here’s why.

Educators are burning out and quitting at an unprecedented rate. More and more folks in this profession are experiencing anxiety, depression and are just plain exhausted. Those of you that hire teachers each year knows what I am talking about. The summer months are a scramble just to fill positions. And teachers,  you can’t possibly give any more. In fact, as the title says, I think you should give less.

Blasphemy Jon!

How could you say such a thing?!?

Test scores will drop.

Children will suffer.

Teachers will sell-out.

To that my answer is …

Well, I don’t want to say what my answer is because I am trying to keep this clean.

Ok Jon, if you’re so smart, what do you propose? We can’t just tell our staff to give 90%. And if you’re a teacher, you’re thinking, I am not wired that way. It’s all or nothing baby.

Well I had an idea. And I tried it out yesterday. And it worked!

Tomorrow, today, when you’re ready. Make a conscious effort to save a little bit. Not much. Just 10%.

Don’t correct every mistake. Don’t expect a perfect lesson. Don’t demand that your class behave perfectly. And see what happens.

Well, I tried it yesterday. At lunch duty. I help supervise 4 lunch duties each day. It’s a great time to be with the kids and it helps to keep an orderly cafeteria. It can get loud at times. Well yesterday, I saved a little bit. There were a few times when it got just a little too loud for my liking. I was tempted to raise my voice and get everyone quiet. And I did, most of the time.

But not every time.

I saved a little.

And you know what? Everything worked out. The results were no different than the day before. But I had more energy when I left the building.

On my drive home I called my wife. I asked her to tell my son that we were playing football when I get home. Not later. Not in an hour. But when I get home. I could hear his excitement through the phone. I could feel it.

And I knew at that moment that saving 10% was what I needed to do from now on.

Try it today. Don’t tell anyone. But throughout the day make small conscious efforts to save a little here and a little there. I bet nobody will notice and I bet there will be no ill side effects.

Actually, I take that back. Your family will notice. Your friends will notice. And most importantly, you will notice.

It’s time to feel better.

Good luck, and let me know how it goes.

 

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5 thoughts on “Why We Shouldn’t Give 100%

  1. I read John’s tweet and I’ve been thinking about it too. The martyr idealization of any job should be avoided. I love the experiment you describe and I’m gonna try it. I’m not in the classroom now, but I believe it would help anyone. It reminds me of something my yoga teacher said about how the ideal yoga practice should be about 80% effort. We should all reserve more energy for ourselves. Pratyahara is a yoga guideline that is the practice of withdrawing or creating space between what’s happening around you and your emotional reaction to it. I think your challenge is a great way to practice yoga off the mat.

  2. ‪Great read! We are in what I call, “The Age of Empowerment!” We must empower students/teachers/staff/parents to make sound decisions without micromanaging them. Expectations must be clear & accountability with support must be immediate & without personalizing the issue. ‬
    We have Yacker-Trackers in our lunchroom that are set at 5 decibels. When they hit red, the result is 2 minutes quiet time, period. No discussion. No yelling. No debate. We empower our students to self-regulate. We empower our teachers to not have to micromanage, in fact, our teachers don’t have lunch duty, they have more important things to tend to, like eating lunch themselves or socializing/collaborating with their teammates.
    As simple as it sounds, we expect students to be safe/respectful/responsible in all they do, be it in the classroom, the playground, lunch or on the bus. When they don’t meet our expectations, we simply remind them of the specific expectation and give them a 1. If they continue to have difficulty meeting that expectation, we give them a 2, change their setting and seek to support them. If within the same setting they again don’t meet our expectations, they need more support. They get a reflection sheet to share with their parents and of necessary, support from the counselor or administration.
    The point I believe to make here that greatly benefits teachers is that there is an expectation and clear understanding by students that this process doesn’t involve dialog in the momen; its not a discussion, it’s a process that we follow that is highly effective for the majority of our students. Teachers & staff members don’t have to take this home worth them. They don’t have to get fed up or lose their cool. They simply have to be consistent and have great relationships with our kids.
    Our administration typically monitor the lunchroom independently or with minimal support. We listen to music, have open seating and empower our students to not have to ask for permission to do simple tasks like get a spoon/milk/napkin. They can get up and throw away their trash when they are done eating, not having to wait for an adult to tell them to do so. They are empowered to meet our expectations, not micromanaged to follow our rules. From time to time we have to help them with accountability, but with this process, it is easy to do.
    Teachers/staff need to have a process in place that allows them to give 100% without being burned out dealing situations where expectations are not being met. We haven’t perfected this system yet, but we are getting better every day and our daily climate is reflecting our positive approach of empowerment!
    If you would like to know more, you can reach me at garcia_timothy@svvsd.org

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