Over the past few years, I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to present at various conferences, lead weekend workshops, consult with other international schools to help them leverage technology for learning, and continue to teach COETAIL both face-to-face at YIS and in our online cohorts. Collaborating with other educators in all of these settings is really inspiring to me and helps push my thinking so that I can bring back new ideas to YIS.
Although I absolutely love all of these experiences, this year I realized that these opportunities outside of my formal teaching job are taking more and more of my time (in a good way). Because I’m not entirely sure where this kind of work will take me, and because I am so happy working at YIS, I’ve been feeling torn about how to manage everything – without spending every evening and weekend working to catch up.
So, back in January, I had a great conversation with my superstar admin team (one of the many reasons I love working at YIS) about how I can continue the work that I do at YIS, and finding time in the working week to continue developing those outside opportunities.
During that conversation, I realized a few things:
- I like going to work. Well, I’ve always known this, but I really freaked out at the thought of not going to work and not being part of a school. I like being with people, having a common goal that we can work towards together, being able to bounce ideas around with a team, and generally having some kind of routine in my life.
- I really value the opportunity to implement ideas in an open-minded and innovative learning community like YIS. It’s hard for me to suggest ideas to others without having actually followed through and done them myself, so that I really understand the nuance and can share the practical elements of implementation.
- Working with students is my favorite part of the day. I’ve really enjoyed being able to teach grade 6 at YIS, not only for the time I get to spend with those awesome kids, but also feeling like I’m a “real” teacher – not “just a coach” or someone who doesn’t have to do all the things that teachers do (that are so quickly forgotten when you leave the classroom).
- I’m not a huge risk taker. I like trying new things, but I also appreciate having some kind of consistency and support network – professionally, socially and financially.
- So, what would really work out best for me (at this time, with this situation) is one day off per week – really to focus on teaching COETAIL online, but also to give me the opportunity to travel, if needed. Ideally this would be a Friday or a Monday for those weekend trips.
Thankfully, I work in a fantastic and supportive school, and after we discussed all of these various elements, we agreed that working 80% would be a great match for both my professional needs and the work I need to continue doing at YIS. Not only was it wonderful to hear how supportive everyone on the admin team was about this new adventure, but it was fascinating (to me) to see how completely unsurprised they were that I would be interested in moving in this direction. I think everyone (at different times, and in different conversations) said they were expecting me to ask about this soon (they clearly know more than me about my future career moves).
So, next year I’ll have one day a week to start focusing on some exciting adventures! We’ve also agreed that if I need to do longer traveling in the year (which I will for Learning 2.0 in Bangkok and Addis Ababa) I can work some extra Fridays in lieu of those travel days. Mostly I think I’ll be working on the COETAIL online cohorts (the next one starts in September!), but there is another exciting venture in the works (more soon) that will certainly take up even more of my time. I love working with other schools, so hopefully I’ll have some opportunities to do some more traveling (already booked, a weekend with NIST, a conference in Korea at KIS, and a week in Amman at ACS).
Even though this doesn’t seem like a huge risk – just one day off a week – it does seem a bit daunting to me. I enjoy working, particularly at YIS, and I’m just not sure how I’ll feel about working from home, doing even more traveling (which is exhausting) and feeling slightly disconnected from my main job. I’m also thinking the more time I have to work on “other things”, the more time I’ll spend working – which is not really what I’m going for, but might have to be the way it is, at least at the start.
For those that have already tried this model, what did you think? What works well? What should I avoid or watch out for? What do I need to plan for now?