This is part 2 of a post from last month. Here is part 1.
I have a checklist on the bulletin board next to my desk. It’s a list of when to say “no.” I have a tendency to take on more than I should handle. Thank you, ADHD. The most important questions on it are:
- Would I learn any new skills?
- Would it expand my network of influential people?
- What would I need to give up or sacrifice?
- Would I be able to leverage the experience for future opportunities?
(If you want to read the rest of the list, check out the book Woman Up!)
The answers to all of those questions were a resounding “YES,” when I decided to take over for my “boss” last June. I worked out the “what I need to sacrifice” question with my husband so we could split up family responsibilities while I took on the position.
If you read part 1, it seems likely I would take on this job, permanently. There are plenty of schools in my county, so opportunities abound. I had also just started this blog when I took on Department Chair. I absolutely love writing, especially stories about life with a family of ADHDers.
While I grew and expanded my repertoire of skills as a manager, and Spanish teacher, I realized how constrained I felt as I took on more. October 31st was the day I gave up the demands of the Dept. Chair position. It was one of the reasons that kept me going through the brutal “bust-your-ass” mentality as I worked, wrote, and mothered through those busy 5 months.
If I took on the job, permanently, at another school, my thoughts kept returning to what I might loose instead of gain. Being a part-time teacher gives me the flexibility to be home with my children, write on the weekends, or during my off periods, and be free from “the grind.” I like swimming in the educator pool while I moonlight as a blogger and writer. It gives me a chance to see what I’m made of. So, am I taking on more next year? The simple answer is “No.”
Working less but Learning more
In a perfect world I would work even less, next year. I’d love to teach 3 classes instead of 4 and put more energy into parenting, homeschool, and writing plus grow my blog. Teaching is an art form and I truly feel I learn more each day as a professional educator. However, blogging encompasses many skills which are completely new to me. I’ve learned to do things I wasn’t even aware existed like SEO optimization, using Google ADwords, and building a shopify store.
Blogging alleviates some of the boredom that comes with doing the same job for over 10 years. I enjoy my students, I love coming up with new projects and activities to keep them engaged. However, I most look forward to writing my blogs each week. In order to get mundane tasks (like grading quizzes) done, I use my writing as a reward. It’s a strategy I apply for my son, as well. “B, As soon as you take the trash out and load the dishwasher, you can show me the new game you’re building on Gary’s Mod.”
The unfortunate truth about ADHDers is that we usually have poor performance in school, but are amazing learners. When B is learning how to play a sport, or testing a new app to create a video for his you tube channel, he’s focused and engaged. He works harder than any other 11 year-old, I know. He spends hours on one 15-minute video.
Your Own Boss
Truthfully, I could work on this blog, write and market it ALL DAY LONG. I’m not getting any monetary reward, but this matters to me and I’m learning so I keep doing it. I’m my own boss in this area of my life.
While I was Dept. Chair, I answered to someone else. I was learning, but I was also a subordinate. I could be truthful and I was respected because my school is one of collaboration and pride.
At the same time, I realized how much I needed to get done. My job became a long to-do list. Some of my creativity was snuffed out because there are situations where you must follow protocol. This is how large systems manage people. The good news: it works pretty well at our school. The bad news: I missed my freedom and the creativity that comes with being a part-time teacher and an unpaid blogger.
For any ADHDer, I hope you find what keeps you going. The balance between a paid gig that I enjoy, and a writing gig that fuels my fire puts me a in a great position. The artist in me is satisfied.
Everyday I look for that balance for my son. Who says we can’t be our own bosses? In fact, we should train our children to do that, every day.
What fuels your fire? What is the “work” you or your child will do for zero reward? Let me know in the comments.