For any educator that has been feeling overwhelmed by initiatives, programs, deadlines, and just general stuff; I encourage you to read this blog post by Tony Sinanis. When I read it on Friday, it truly spoke to my soul. At the end he asks to key questions: 1) "Is initiative overload a reality?" and 2) "How can we address initiative overload?"
In my situation, I have had the experience of being an administrator so I understand the tough decisions and balancing act that comes with it. I also understand how important it is to remember what it is like to be in the role of teacher. And in both roles the primary concern should be what is best for students. It makes me think about a term that I first encountered with Morgan Lee in the Principal Induction Program. If you are from South Carolina, then it may resonate with you as well. Whitespace. We all need it.
My plea for administrators include two things. I hope these will be among your top take-aways from his blog post. The first, seriously consider what teachers can let go of when implementing something new. There will be mandates that come from all different directions state, district, school, etc. Consider the effect that it has on teachers because this impacts students as well. Second, listen to your teachers. If your staff is saying that they are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, unappreciated: Believe Them. And work together to find those solutions. For the questions that Dr. Sinanis asks, I do believe that initiative overload is a real thing and we cannot afford to ignore it. Great teachers will continue to leave the profession and there will continue to be a shortage of candidates entering the profession. I don't think there is one grand idea for addressing this issue. But I think it will require educators at all levels coming to the table with open minds and without a fear of speaking openly and honestly about the concerns of initiative overload.
As a Connected Educator, I learn about so many great tools, resources, and strategies that can be implemented in the classroom. My colleagues discuss ideas they have for their classes daily. Sometimes, these great ideas get derailed for something else. When enthusiasm is high, don't let initiative overload rob students of a variety of great experiences because we want all teachers implementing the same program because it's a "mandate". Keep in mind, those students that had different learning styles, grew to be teachers who also have different learning styles, interests, and areas of strength (or weakness). It's time to reevaluate the way things are being done. Maybe there is one way to address initiative overload. Mandatory Whitespace. Let's all be great!
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