(This is for all my teacher friends as school begins. Blessings to you all!)
You are thinking, thinking, thinking even before your feet hit the floor in the morning. You run through your day as you shower, even brushing your teeth in the shower so you don’t forget. You examine different scenarios of the day, hoping you haven’t forgotten anything too important. You pack your lunch, fix breakfast for your family, determine which jacket to wear (in WI it was in the forties last night) and rush out the door for your commute to work, already considering which project to tackle first.
When you get to work, you debate about opening your email, or starting on your first project. You know if the emails get opened, you’ll lose at least 30-45 minutes of your precious thinking, working time. “What if there’s a message from a parent needing something?” you muse. And so the lure of the emails win out and off you go, down the garden path of other people’s agendas.
This day starts like many of our days, in a rush, with other people’s agendas. In school settings, this usually is the way, as we have 25 little variables running around, demanding our attention. However, before they come into our rooms, what things do we need to be doing? Can we determine what’s essential for our day, week, month and know that we can face our days with confidence, calmness and a sense of clarity? Can we truly accomplish what is essential for our students or the people we serve as we pursue our best selves as educators? What truly is our focus?
In the book, essentialism, the Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown makes the argument that we can live an essentialism lifestyle. We need to be clear about knowing what the right things are to get done. As an essentialist, we can discern what our essence as an educator is – by choosing, discerning and making trade-offs to get to the what is the essence of how we want to live our lives. What problems and passions do we really want to own?
When we know our what, then we explore the trivial many from the vital few. Especially in an educational setting, we need to take the time to explore what really is vital for students to know and be able to do. What do we need to focus on for their learning that is absolutely vital that I want to own. For example, in the teaching of reading, what are the most vital practices for students to learn? As an essentialist, we could explore those practices and then focus only on those practices and let go of everything else – the less is more concept. We would look to see what really matters and use extreme criteria in choosing. Most of all, we would protect our own well-being of rest and health in being able to choose the essentials.
In a family setting, the questions can be the same, what is it we need to focus on that is most important for our families to be thriving?
The second step in essentialism is to eliminate ruthlessly. We clarify, dare to say no, uncommit, edit and limit what is going on in the learning of our students. We would continually boil down to what we want the children to know and be able to do and the minimum of best practices and resources for them to be able to do that. We would continually ask the question – Is this essential?
Finally, we would execute. How can we make doing the vital few things almost effortless? We would look for ways to buffer our time, remove any obstacles we could, celebrate progress, continue to focus on what is important each step of the way and move forward together.
What could an essential classroom look like? What could an essential school look like? What could an essential educator look like? What could an essential life look like? How will you move forward towards an essential life? Join the conversation on LiveFullyLifeCoaching Facebook. Happy Essential Living School Year!!