The other night, my four year old broke my heart. “Why don’t you ever play with us?” he asked.
“What do you mean? I play with you all the time!” I responded, obviously feeling defensive from the sting of his question. My kids are the loves of my life. I try to spend as much time with them as is humanly possible for a mom who’s also a teacher.
“No,” he pushed back. “You are always makin’ dinner or doin’ somethin’ else.”
I paused and, in my head, did a quick inventory of what I’d done during the time we’d spent together recently:
- prepare meals
- empty and reload dishwasher
- pick up mess
- schlep the kids to the store to pick out a birthday present for their cousin
- read stories
He was right. I was with them, but I was so busy with the day-to-day work of being a parent that I wasn’t doing what they really needed: spending time with them doing what they were doing.
This struggle reminds me of one I’ve noticed in the classroom, too.
My students regularly keep track of how they spend their workshop time, but aside from conference notes and formative data, I hadn’t really been keeping track of how I’d been spending my own time, so I challenged myself to start. In a week, my inventory for how I spent my workshop time included:
- Conferences – lots of them
- Get kids caught up after absences
- Pull small groups for guided instruction and re-teaching
- Answer emails
- Read over a mentor text I plan to use the next day
- Pretty up an anchor chart
- Enter notes on goals into the online gradebook
I’m sure that inventory looks familiar to you. But there’s a big, gaping hole there. My students were hard at work writing. Why wasn’t I? I see myself as a writer, but I wasn’t actually spending my time that way. Sure, I was busy. We’re teachers. OF COURSE we’re busy. But I worry that sometimes I get so wrapped up in the work of being busy that I neglect what’s really important: playtime. Continue reading