Now, 40 years on I have my very own version and I am not sure it is fun at all! This week I have been really struggling to find the door out of the hamster ball. Its not a wheel that you can just step off. I have been overwhelmed with everything I need to do, ought to do and want to do, but can’t get around to. I am not complaining just realising it’s time to take some of my own medicine……AGAIN!
I spend a great deal of time working with people to help them operate more efficiently, happily, effectively and sustainably. It is the sustainable which is so difficult to achieve.
Able to be maintained at a certain rate or level.
Able to be upheld or defended.
That should be easy shouldn’t it?
It should but it isn’t. The first thing is to work out what is getting in the way. If I look at my timetable, and the students, then this is how it maps out:
1.Unrealistic optimism – it is tempting to plan for a term/month/week or just a single day and aim to do more than is realistic. Planning to cover too much content with no wriggle room is setting you up for a fall. Something else always comes up or something takes longer than you anticipated. The children are probably going to take longer to get it done. Some things will not get done at all. You then have to nudge it onto the next day, which is no doubt already full.
We have done exactly this at Threedom this week. We were all out of the office for 3 days last week at an exhibition and now we have a grand plan of what we need to do to follow it up. That follow up is urgent we need to maintain momentum, but it’s the end of the week and it hasn’t all been done! The things we missed last week are also now urgent and we are charging headlong into next week. How did that happen…
2.Poor planning and review – is exactly why it has happened. As a small business we could and should have planned it better. We did plan to be in the office to follow up all the sales leads, but we neglected to allow for the fact we had a lot of catching up to do having been away and that something else always comes up. In our case, it was a last-minute webinar which was a great opportunity and we wanted to do it but it took a huge chunk of time to prepare.
Planning and review is important for every business project and every school topic. When was the last time you actually reflected on the effectiveness of your curriculum plan? Did you consider the need for some flexibility? What were you trying to achieve, how would you get there? And how would you know you got there? Doing that takes time but is worth the investment to avoid unsustainable curriculum overload and prevent…
3.Avoid the temptation of a quick fix. – Already guilty of 1 and 2, I got to work this morning all set to launch into this one as well. Let’s just get the orders out, deal with emails, a quick hello to the people we met last week so they have had some contact and then sort it all out next week properly. The problem is sorting it out next week never happens, yet it happens so often in teaching. Things get moved around and pushed back leading ultimately to that end of half-term logjam of shows, events fixtures, tests, finishing work etc. So, slow down, complete fewer things really well and get them right first time. For us this week that is going to mean putting the hours in which will then get us back on track to get out of this hamster ball we are charging around in.
For a lot teachers it is planning long-term and planning realistically with an honest review rather than having a knee jerk reaction to something. If there is no planning and review then it is likely there will be …
4. Striving for perfection – Running a school or teaching a class is such an all-consuming role. Accountability to governors, parents, Ofsted and most of all to the children are all major drivers. School leaders and teachers work so hard to juggle all the different demands of children’s tests, parents’ worries, children’s special needs, school inspections, children’s medical needs, behaviour issues, the football team, the school play, the dinner lady with a sore foot, targets and just when you think have got all that sorted another upsetting safeguarding issue arises taking a few hours of your time to manage. And often, you are left worrying about the child, even though you have done all you physically can for them. It is very easy to lose sight of where you are, put your nose to the grindstone and just keep ploughing on in the hope that you will eventually get on top of things. That is how we end up not being able to see where we are going and where we really are. While we can all feel overworked at times, taking a bit of extra time to remind ourselves what is really important in education is vitally important for every school teacher and every school leader. There is no such thing as perfection.
5.Look at the big picture – Don’t base long term decisions and plans on short term experiences. The day to day classroom and staffroom issues can cause us to lose sight of where we are going. Don’t let the hamster wheel stop you doing the big stuff which is why I have written this rather than deal with my overflowing in-box!
At Threedom Solutions we love what we do and love talking about it. So now I have sorted myself out again. Do get in touch and find out how we can help.