There have been many times in my life when I’ve answered an enthusiastic “YES!” when asked to do something that later proved challenging to manage. Perhaps none of those have been as challenging as finding the time in my schedule, weekly, to get to SES for Band and clarinet lessons. When I committed, I must admit that I thought, “it’s one half hour per week, I can do it!” without thinking of the time needed for lessons and practice.
In case you missed my original post on this topic, on the first day of school, I challenged our school community to become more of a learning community. In response, our SES Instrumental music teacher asked me to learn a musical instrument, something I’ve never done. I thought, “Yes! This will give me a chance to model that we can all push ourselves to learn something that’s otherwise hard for us. And I’m over fifty, so it should be good for my brain.”
While I have enjoyed learning the clarinet, I’ve struggled to keep my schedule open twice per week for this learning. And to be completely honest, I’ve wondered every time I’ve made it to the lesson if it’s the right use of my very limited time. Could I be using the time to meet with groups of students or to visit teachers’ classrooms? I’m coming up on my two year anniversary in March, 2018 and while I’ve gotten to know many of our teachers, there are still many who I’m very conscious of not yet knowing.
Plus there’s the not so tiny issue of this job I’m paid to do every day. My time is spent on reports and capital project planning; on conversations with the members of our leadership team both individually and on team; on talking with anyone who wants to meet with me or who calls with a problem; on managing personnel issues (320 employees and our school district doesn’t have an HR dept., that’s two amazing secretaries, me and our business administrator); professional learning on Twitter, in ed journals/books, and in change.school; on analyzing every aspect of our organization and every budget line to look for areas in need of improvement. Budget season is right around the corner and evaluations and well, you get the picture.
If I have the time to join the fourth grade Band to learn to play the clarinet with them so that I can better understand our music programs, perhaps I should be spreading that time out across the rest of our programs and operations?
If you struggle to find the time to fit everything in, I understand.
I’m not a quitter. I’ve no idea how to explain to the fourth graders that I just don’t have the time to be there twice per week when I know their parents likely teach them, as we did our own kids, “once you start something, you finish it”. I’ll hang in there until December’s concert as I said I would do from the beginning. But good gracious, I hope those kids on the clarinet are practicing because they will definitely need to drown out my less than stellar performance.