Current Events Poetry

Time Management

Or: A Free Write on the Privileges of Time Management

If his eyes were lasers he’d have just burned a hole in my chest. Hell hath no fury like a teenage boy scorned.

My son is mad at me. Like, stomp on the stairs kind of mad at me. Like, only respond to me with laser eyes kind of mad at me. If you’ve ever had children, let alone a teenage one, you will not be surprised to learn he’s mad because I specifically asked him to do his one chore that he had to do today. He had all day to do it, he even had the day off of school. Still, somehow, it’s very obviously my fault.

And now his eyes are burning imaginary holes through my chest. Or maybe exploding my head.

Well. There goes ten of my minutes for the year.

Jonathan Larson taught me that there are 525,600 minutes in a year. That’s never seemed like a high number to me. I mean, maybe it is, but so far today I’ve used up 480 minutes working, 45 minutes commuting, 10 minutes getting dagger eyes from (one) of my children, 45 minutes working out and 2 minutes writing what you’ve just read.

Add another 30 minutes to cook and that totals 612 minutes. I think. I’m a historian not a mathematician.

If we consider another 420 hours of sleep, then you’re at 1,032.

Ugh. My point…my point…excuse me while I search around for my point.

Really, my point is that time is fleeting. It’s a construct, sure, but it’s also dripping through my fingers, like a mountain stream. Sometimes the stream trickles, and sometimes there’s a deluge. Yet, it’s always flowing. The waters are constantly changing and remaking the landscape around it.

And, honestly, this stresses me out, because of those 525,600 minutes that I have, there are so many things I need/want to do!

I have to work. I want to spend time with kids. I have to commute. I want to work out. I have to eat. I want to write.

And this is where a conversation about privilege comes in. Sure. You could say “well, just get a different job,” or, “find something that’s closer to you.” Or, if you’re that particular brand of person, you could tell me that I should “parent better” so that I don’t lose 10 precious minutes to dagger eyes. Except…life doesn’t work that way, does it?

I would love to have more time with my kids, but that means I’d need to work part time- or not at all. I would love to have time to work on my writing – but it means that I have to extract that time from something else. Either, my work, my kids, or my health. I can’t have my cake and eat it too.

Yet…some people can.

So, this is all to say, if a loved one tells you that they feel overwhelmed, you should listen to them. Time works differently for each individual, and there are a lot of things that factor into the amount of time a person has.

For example. My son works 6 hours a week and goes to school. He feels overwhelmed by the fact that I asked him to do his one chore on the sixth day of his break.

*Breathes in through her nose and exhales in a long sigh*

Look. Blogs, social media, even friendships, they can be rough. Often it feels like other people are succeeding at things you want to succeed at too, whether that means kids, fitness, or achieving goals. Every person has to make individual choices that keep them fed, healthy, and happy. Those choices sometimes actually dictate the amount of time someone is able to spend pursuing a dream.

Following your dreams is a privilege. Being able to do the footwork is a privilege. Have the time and energy to work out, or eat well…it’s a privilege. As you go out there and try to topple some of those goals…don’t let people tell you it’s easy, because it’s not.

And if your kid gives you dagger eyes…well…take ten of your minutes and write a blog about it for posterity. I’m sure he’ll thank me later.


The Death of Innovation

Y’all. Being a teacher is hard work.

In one day you have to manage 30-200 (depending on grade) little humans and each one of them has a different need. Not only do you have to manage content for each of their needs (some kids are lower than others, and some kids way higher – so content can’t be one size fits all, there has to be allowance on either spectrum), you have to manage their space.

What I mean by that is you can’t sit Jessica next to Tiffany because they are mortal enemies/best friends forever and they will make your life a living hell if they are next to one another. Except you don’t necessarily know that so your first month is hell until you figure it out.

And, in the midst of this…you get one 45 minute prep period, to make all your content, collaborate with other teachers, look at seating charts, contact parents, put your grades in, create copies, create power points etc.

Some of you may be lucky. Maybe you get more than one prep (I don’t). Maybe you get before and after school too (I don’t). Maybe you get Fridays (I don’t).

Maybe, like me…you don’t.

OK…So What?

Recently, when fellow teachers and I attempted to solve our problem of literally no time to breathe we were told that we could just be handed a bad curriculum and go off of that. The fact that we were choosing to innovate was really the problem.

I want to be clear, it was not meant as an unkind thing. It was meant as an “you are all so awesome though, of course you want your stuff to be great, which is why you spend personal time on it.”

Still, it rankled me the wrong way. You see, teachers should be innovators. In fact, it’s not just a *should* it’s a required aspect of our job. We must have a certain number of continuing education hours, all of which are supposed to help us become better teachers.

Or, for a better phrase, become better at innovating within the classroom.

Now, I understand that administrators must balance the needs of the school in its entirety, and the needs of the individual teachers. But…we are being asked to do too much, especially in the middle of a pandemic. Some of you haters may say “bUt wHaT aBoUt SuMmEr?!” And to you, I say fuck you John, in the summer we’re attending the education classes required for our jobs, or working a second job to pay the bills.

So…what the point? Well, if you’re admin, consider asking yourself if you actually want innovation at your school. I feel positive the answer is yes. Now, ask if you have provided teachers enough time to be innovative.

You probably think you do. However, I challenge that you ask yourself if there’s a culture within the school of pressuring teachers to work outside of their contract hours. Do you say things like “this is just what we do”, “this is the job”, or “this is why we pay you”?

If the answer is yes then a radical shift must be made in the culture of your school. Teachers can’t innovate without time to do so. Teachers can’t be good employees without having the time to actually do their fucking job. And in the midst of the pandemic, everyone is realizing how incredibly important their own time is to them.

So don’t be dumb, give teachers time and allow them to innovate.