New Goal: Tame Wednesdays

Coast Guard 47 Motor Lifeboat by MikeBaird on Flickr
Coast Guard 47' Motor Lifeboat by MikeBaird on Flickr

Today was another crazy Wednesday. It was a perfect storm of the usual entropy of new student intakes, the one and only copy machine in the building breaking sometime between afternoon GED classes and evening ESL classes, and a preventable scheduling mix-up that left me short a teacher.

Honestly though, it was far from a disaster.  My new students got enough attention, my teachers got one worksheet per class via the scanner, and my Advanced class (the center of so much bad luck with their lessons!) got a decent if not elegant lesson.

I’m happy that everyone got what they needed.  Still, I’d like to limit the chaos in the future.  Some things I can do:

  1. Take a few extra moments whenever I update the schedule to ensure accuracy, and ask volunteers to quick double-check it (it’s online)
  2. Look for a regular intake volunteer (I had someone briefly, and it was awesome)
  3. Consider having a back-up or on-call volunteer teacher on Wednesdays
  4. Re-think my intake materials location.  Currently, there’s a lot of running back and forth.

There’ll still be nothing I can do if the copier suddenly breaks, but if I add more structure (and help!) to the controlling of the controllable, the things I can’t control will be easier to adapt to.

Onward!

From Godin’s Tribe Building: Surprise Them

Item #21: Go Somewhere Different – e.g. Surprise the heck out of them!

This leaped off the page at me for learning centers.  I love my learning center, and one of the things I love about it is its unpredictability.  What with our student population facing transportation and childcare barriers, our entirely unpaid teaching staff, and our geographic propensity for extreme weather conditions (last Thursday it was -10 outside), there’s a whole lot of unpredictability.  Unfortunately, many of the surprises end up being challenges: absences of people or materials; having planning take longer than you thought (doesn’t it always?);  feeling more tired than you thought you would.

It’s kind of a forehead-smacker that a coordinator can (partially) take control by making a few surprises, and making them positive ones.  A card, a balloon, a tasty treat, a “congratulations” for x number of hours spent at the learning center.  Duh – but I’m not sure it would’ve occurred to me in those terms.  Thanks, Seth!

I guess the catch is that lack of time tends to be one of the challenging surprises that comes up repeatedly for me, and contriving positive surprises takes time.  Yet another matter of achieving a delicate balance.

How do you balance the need to control/fix unpleasant surprises and to create pleasant ones?

First Day Back!

My first day back was Awesome.  I like doing my job even more than I like the idea of it.

It felt good to take stock, set a few basic priorities, and dive in!  I was a teacher short, had backlogs of notes to read from my subs; there was paperwork to be organized and catching up to do with my VISTA coworker; I’m short four regular teachers and need to fix that ASAP… and on top of it all, it was new student intake day!  I basically didn’t pause all day, or even hardly sit down between 5 and 9, and I loved it. It was very satisfying to just suddenly, officially, and most definitely be BACK.

I’m not sure that I would’ve thought yesterday to wish for today to be so busy, but luckily that kind of wish never gets granted anyway.

Tomorrow I need to get all the way through my email, plan several lessons, peruse the new curriculum more closely, and do more to nail down a regular teacher schedule.  Looking forward to it!