Juggling Your Responsibilities

images (4)By Matthew Olinski — I wanted to let everyone know of my talent: I’m a juggler.

No, not that kind of juggler. I don’t have 3 chainsaws whirling past me or even 3 brightly colored balls, apples, etc, although I have tried in the past.  What I am referring to is a very practical skill that all educators, and quite honestly, most people have to do in their careers.  I will admit in some ways, I have it a little easier than others.  I have to juggle my career, my family, and my hobbies.  Luckily, I have recently taken graduate classes out of the juggling act.  In that sub category of career, there are also several other items to juggle at the same time.

There are quite a few demands placed on people who wish to be successful in their careers.  There is the time demanded to make quality lessons. I am always revamping my lessons.  I have tried to use more technology, different technology, more focus on students presenting.  There are committees to serve on, activities to supervise, and meetings to attend.  This is a well balanced act.

New teachers have a lot of energy, a lot of ambition, and sometimes — often being single –they have more time to divide up these activities with.  This is great.  But, be careful.  There is a steep learning curve in the education field.  One of the reasons why I wanted to go into education was to share my knowledge, not just in the classroom, but in extracurricular activities I was experienced in as well.

I remember my first year of teaching, when I would get done with cross country practice after 5:30 or so, and then have to make sure my plans were set for the next day, and then try to eat something healthy.  That routine continued throughout the year as I volunteered to be in charge of another club and then a track coach in the spring.  It was a whirlwind of a school year. I enjoyed the connections I made that year. I was even taught how to ride a BMX bike by another teacher friend of mine, Jamie Licht, and several students. Graduate school was the last thing on my mind at the time.

Life has changed quite a bit since that first year.  I am active as a WIAA football official, I’m married now, and I’ve got a young daughter.  I have seen my role change in the school as well.  It is a matter of balancing out what activities are absolutely necessary and which another teacher can share their time and energy level in.  I feel that if I am not able to give my maximum effort, the students are getting cheated.  So, I had to adjust the parts of my life that I was juggling as I went.

As we approach a new school year, there will be many new teachers entering into a classroom.  There are going to be a lot of people asking you to volunteer for or coach an activity.  That is a reason why many people get into this field in the first place.

I say: good luck and congratulations.  Just be careful in how much you commit yourself to.  It can be overwhelming to some people.  Remember that your primary role is an educator. If that part of your career begins to suffer, the extracurricular activities might be available either.

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