Ok, so it’s easy to get caught off-guard when someone asks or tells you to help with yet another after-school or evening activity .
It’s easy to get cornered and swept into the whole “help us with XYZ after school because it’s for the kids” thing, which does nothing but enable parents to take even LESS responsibility for their kids after school while forcing you to give even LESS time to your own kids or your own life.
It’s easy to think about the need to get the oil changed in your car after work and then suddenly you can’t because you were talked into “duty” at the school’s Parents’ Night Out.
(Really? Now we’re babysitting students for free so parents can get a night off? Ok, not at my school, but my friend’s school has done this more than once).
Anyway, think about what your personal priorities are for each day this week after school hours.
In other words, begin each Monday morning with a list you created Sunday night of what YOU want and need to get done for your family after school hours for each day of the week (and I don’t mean the hours the school asks of you… I mean the contract hours that state when you can leave).
Admin: Hey, we’re needing a few more people to help out with the Copy Paper Usage Committee. We’d love for you to join us at the informational meeting this afternoon at 5:30.
You: Oh, my car’s been acting up and I’m just praying it’ll get me to the shop after school. Sorry! (Hey, an oil change is important!)
Admin: Oh, no problem! We’re having a follow-up meeting the next morning before school at 7:05. How about that?
You: (Shit!) I’ll see if my husband and I can rearrange things at home in the morning. Otherwise, I won’t be able to. I’m maybe not the most dependable person right now. I have a lot on my plate (Then work that out with your husband. If it’s not convenient for your family, then Do. Not. Do. It… Family first, always).
Co-Worker Who Annoys You to Death: Hey, I have an idea for another student club! I’m only sponsoring six groups this year and I really want to start another one! Like, wanna start a 90’s trivia club for kids with me? That would be so amazing!!! I like really like want to start this up! Since your room is near my room, it would like be like so like easy and fun!
You: That’s so sweet of you to think of me, but I am definitely not the right person for this. My plate is full (as you’re walking away) and I just can’t take on anything else right now. Enjoy that new club, though! (walking away even faster).
Admin: Our reading scores are down this year. I’m putting you in charge of creating an after-school tutoring system geared towards our struggling readers. Let me know what this schedule might look like by tomorrow at 2:00.
You: Ok, what parts of the school day am I able to work with? We can’t realistically do this before or after school because of so many kids riding the buses. We will miss out on reaching a majority of our kids this way. Let’s focus on what we CAN control during the school day.
Admin: Good point. Let’s pull from extracurricular classes and homeroom. Let me know who will help you set all this up.
You: I’ll get back to you on that by tomorrow at 2:00.
(Hey, that’s not bad. You just got out of having tutoring groups eat up your personal family time, and it’s totally true that with so many kids riding the bus and having no alternative transportation, you really do have to find a way to work with them during the school day. Be prepared to put in a little extra time coming up with how to do this initially, but it won’t cost you days and days and weeks and weeks before or after school).
Random Instructional Leader from Some Central Office: What afternoon would be best for me to come and meet with all the Language Arts teachers after school for the two-hour workshop I have planned on Standards Design?
You: That sounds…interesting. Unfortunately, we have so many other duties here at school plus our own kids to pick up and take care of that this won’t work as far as getting us all together at the same time after school. I’d love to offer some alternate ideas and see what you think (a planning day at the end of the year, or a summer conference workshop, or a pre-recorded webinar that we can watch a little at a time on our conference period, or even a once-a-week session during planning time until your two-hour workshop stuff has been covered).
That hilarious teacher down the hall is taking a group of kids to the next town over to do some community service on Saturday morning. She wants to know if you can come just to help her out by being another adult there.
Cool! Let’s do this one! Besides, it’s something you can bring your own kids and spouse to in order to be together as a family, doing something good for others in need, and at the same time you’re helping out your fun teacher friend from down the hall AND you’re there with students from your school who are also giving up part of their Saturday to do something good and worthwhile.
Lesson: Choose one thing once in a while that you really do believe in and that also adds value to your own personal time and family. This adds to your family and it’s good for them. It doesn’t take anything away from them.
I hope this helps you to live life first, then teach.
Your WHY for Why You Do What You Do Each Day is so that you can feed and care for your family. Putting in a tough, honest day’s work does not mean that you keep doing it until after the sun goes down every single day.
It means that you work hard at work, choose extra responsibilities extremely carefully and with the intention of not interfering in what’s best for YOUR family and personal time.
What have you all been asked (or volunteered) to do recently that you were able to diplomatically and honestly pass on because you chose to live life first?
Share your stories below!