One day back to work and already I could feel my brain firing off in a million directions, analysing all that I had done and all that I had yet to do and feeling that oh so familiar ‘uh-oh’, here comes the crazyness again. But as I paused to cook dinner (all the time cursing the amount of time it would take when there was so much else to be done) I had a sudden realistion.
Instead of “To Do lists“, which provide a modicum of control and a comforting sense of being somewhat organised but which always seem never-ending, this year I’m going to create an Achievement Log.
Rather than fret about what needs doing, I’ll make a conscious effort to celebrate all that I achieve.
So here goes: on Friday, along with my colleagues in the English department, we analysed our Leaving Cert exam results; I also got to grips with my new timetable; wrapped my head around where we go next with our literacy strategy; surveyed the staff on the suitability of a key words notebook as part of said strategy; sat through a really productive staff meeting (I know, who knew such a thing exists?) and then came home and cooked dinner for our lovely friends Pat and Ruth who I had completely forgotten were coming to visit! It was yum and fun and next time I promise the house will be tidier 😉
At the weekend I finished and submitted an iBook chapter I’d been working on; visited Tayto Park (highly recommended); finally completed my poetry podcasts for Emily Dickinson (WB Yeats was put to bed a few weeks ago) and Mayo minors and seniors booked their place in the All-Ireland Football Final! Get in there lads!
Monday I orchestrated 89 new first year students playing improv games in the gym; took on the role of subject convenor for English, got my zombie story spine example and handouts sorted for teaching my first years and discovered that the speakers in my classroom weren’t working! grr! As a department we finalised our schemes of work for the first term with our first, second, Junior Cert and Transition Year students, ruminated on the need for a questionnaire for establishing base-line data on our first and second years reading habits, examined class lists to see which students go where and generally got our brains back in the zone for the year ahead. Today was similarly manic – welcome to teaching!
What astounds me, even now, is how a simple switch of attitude, from To Do lists to Achievement Log, focusing on what I’m achieving every day instead of lamenting what remains unfinished, yields such profound benefits. I feel calmer, more capable, more ready, willing and able to cope with the demands of this crazy job.
And it also occurs to me how powerful this change of focus could be for my students; particularly exam students and all those who, like me, suffer from the royal pain in the ass that is ‘being a bit of a perfectionist‘.
So maybe this year I’ll encourage them at all times to list what they have achieved first before focusing on the rest of the uphill climb. Hey, maybe there’s an app in this Achievement Log idea? Hell knows there’s an app for everything else nowadays. It could come with built in cheers and applause every time you list something you’ve achieved, even if it’s as mundane as remembering that you’re having guests and tidying the house…
Right, that’s another thing to add to my To Do List!
Hopefully some day it’ll make it into the Achievement Log 😉