I live in a relatively small town that is more than 20 minutes from the next closest smaller town, and more than 2 hours from the next closest larger town.
I try to get involved in the community here, but I also want to maintain my own privacy. As a band director in a small town, I automatically achieve, at least minimally, some sort of celebrity status. It is difficult for me to go to the grocery store or a restaurant without seeing at least one family I know.
I try not to let that really bother me, but one of the nasty side-effects of that is that I end up spending WAY more time at school than is really healthy for me. This summer has really been the first summer where I have not been looking for another job or taken a vacation out of the state. As a result, it is merely showing me how much time I really do spend on school stuff and how little social involvement I tend to have outside of school or school friends.
The sad thing is that I tend to be slightly more involved than some of the other teachers I know who are not natives of this area.
I want to clarify that quitting teaching is one of the last thoughts to cross my mind right now. I believe that God has me teaching here for a very specific purpose, and I do not feel like it is time for me to either go to a different district or just throw in the towel entirely. But I do weight thoughts at times. I ask myself, “What is the point of me being here?”
Seek meaning and fulfillment
It is easy for me to ask those questions. Questions are never bad. Unanswered questions are the source of all discoveries throughout history. Unanswered questions also lead to personal discovery. These are good. So just what is the answer? The answer is to seek meaning and fulfillment OUTSIDE of the classroom. As teachers, we do wonderful things in the classroom. I think most teachers really truly strive to do that. But what are we doing socially?
In my series, 5 Habits of Highly Effective Teachers, I mentioned that community involvement is one of my weakest areas. This is a personal goal for myself ths year, to overcome the apprehension I have in this area. I am going to force myself to step out of my comfort zone and try some new things.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
There must be fun. There must be freedom. There must be focus. Away from school. I leave my work at work. I also plan on leaving my work by 5 unless extracurricular commitments keep me there.
So how will I do it?
- I will delegate like a crazy person. I have great parents who would love to help me out this year. I know because I had their children last year and didn’t use them to the fullest potential. How do I know I didn’t? Because they were asking me what they could do to help! I also have responsible students I want to put in charge of things. Copying music, taking up and passing out papers.
- I will automate the grading by buying the SmartMusic program, which will eliminate the need for me to listen to students in order to assign their grades. Automating the performance grading process is a beautiful concept, especially when it comes prepackaged with nearly all of the music that my middle school band students will need to play, and much of the rest is readily available, or can be typed or keyed in easily.
- I will eliminate unnecessary paperwork. I may have practice records again, but the system for assigning grades will be much simpler. Additionally, I will have less than 2/3 the number of students this year as I had last year, thus saving me some time keying in grades.
Why do all of this?
A couple of reasons come to mind. (A) I love the idea of being able to have a social life by getting home at a reasonable time and not being stuck at school all the time. (B) I want to be able to free myself up to serve God in other ways than simply teaching school.
At the end of the day, if all I do is teach children, then I am not fulfilling my true purpose of life on earth. That is a realization with which I don’t want to have to deal!