Ok, everyone, raise your hand if you have your hands full. (get it? …sorry)
We are all jugglers in life; trying to keep a number of things in the air without letting them drop, but never having enough hands to guide each thing through its entire journey. We decide when an item needs our attention and which we can let fly for a little longer. Hopefully, the time you do get with each will set it up for a long, true flight and not need your constant support and guidance.
Just like the expert jugglers, our tasks aren’t all created equal, and that medicine ball that’s in the mix is always taking more time to control than we want. So what can we do? Not to wax nihilistic, but Sisyphus may suggest to sing “Don’t worry, Be happy” by Bobby McFerrin. OR, we could take a more comfortable, controlling approach to how we handle these tasks.
More than time management
I’m sure most of us can point towards time management skills as an important aspect of this, but what if we are already good at that skill? We can’t make more time, and we can’t be too much more efficient. Adding a new task would require “dropping the ball” on another. I’m also guessing that most of us have had to let some items go, and have an ever-refined process for saying “no” to new things that won’t fit on the plate.
I’m not going to suggest you put a new ball in the air but to help you refine one that is there already. Teaching is the heavy awkward behemoth we are all tossing around. It’s multifaceted, involved, energy draining, and… never flies on its own for very long.
So what’s my point? To be practical. This blog is supposed to make us all better teachers as we thoughtfully roll the ideas around and apply them. But let’s be honest, human nature would suggest we make something work and move on. After all, “What ain’t broke, don’t fix.” But I hope your thoughts on teaching aren’t “just don’t break it”.
In the exercise field, the primary complaint for most is not enough time. The response we have is “If it is important to you, you will need to make the time.” So this is what I’m suggesting, set aside specific time to think about your teaching from different angles. This doesn’t have to be onerous, but it may require setting an appointment with yourself. Hopefully this blog can spur on ideas or present tools you can use.
As we move through the academic year you will see more Teaching Moment blog posts from myself and the rest of the Teaching Excellence committee. We will make a concerted effort to bring you topics that are worth your time, cut the BS, and provide resources to improve your ability to keep that behemoth up in the air.
Where to start
Check out this self-assessment tool. It’s brief, and doesn’t require you to do anything but think about yourself.
To get somewhere else, we first need to know where we are.
(also, you can head over to the Teaching Resources page to find more assessment tools at the bottom, after you scroll past all the other useful resources!)
Still want more?
Keep an eye out in future blogs about Learning Triads, The Teaching Excellence Award, and free seminars we are putting together that discuss and demonstrate useful tools and concepts from our own faculty and the Center for Teaching and Learning. (These would all look amazing on your review!)
Lastly, A picture of my cat, Finn.
Instructor of Kinesiology