At the beginning of March I posted a sign on our classroom door that said, “WELCOME TO MARCH MADNESS, AND NO, WE’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT BASKETBALL!”
Every major event in our choir world happened in March, which at the beginning of the semester I jokingly described how daunting this time was going to be and questioning how and if we would all stay survive. Each week we had a different event: All State Choir weekend, All County Chorus weekend, our school musical, and Choral Festival. I remember saying several times over the course of the month, “I knew it was going to be tiresome, but I never knew this kind of exhaustion that I am experiencing now.” Looks like the joke was on me!
My one goal for the month was to stay healthy and organized, because if I wasn’t able to remain as such, March was going to be long and unsuccessful. The same day I posted my sign, I created a “health station” in my classroom fully equipped with tissues, hand sanitizer, and inspirational quotes about being healthy.
With the exception of a few minor sniffles (thanks, South Carolina allergies!), I survived March. After reflecting on the month, I determined that there are 4 major aspects to staying healthy and organized in busy times:
1. Plan week by week.
Make your to-do list on Monday and write down only items that need to be done for that week. I found that focusing on 5 days worth of tasks relieved a lot stress from thinking about everything that needs to be done in one month. Since most of our events were at the end of the week, I made sure to have all the materials and arrangements made on Monday or Tuesday for peace of mind. By focusing on a week and event at a time the month seemed less daunting.
2. Stay positive.
I know this seems cheesy, but once we progressed through the weeks you and your students are going to be tired, and sometimes being tired brings out the worst in people. There were days when my students had a low-tolerance for mistakes or talking during rehearsal and they would get angry. Because we had so much work to do, I couldn’t afford to spend time getting angry with them, and often had to remind myself that they are just as tired as I am. When they saw that little things weren’t bothering me, or that I greeted them at the beginning of each rehearsal with a smile, the students were more likely to return the demeanor. The less we dwell on our impending stress, the easier it is to approach each week’s tasks and events.
3. Eat and sleep like a normal person.
This, too, sounds simple, but in the midst of late-night rehearsals, organizing field trip forms, and our own personal lives, sometimes meals can be overlooked. Due to my overarching fear of getting sick, I made sure to always eat something substantial for lunch and dinner, and regardless if I had things to do or not, I was in bed by 10. There were days were I would get home, eat dinner, say hello to my husband, and then go to sleep, and repeat the same process the following day. This doesn’t mean you need to give up your family or social life, but it does mean you need to be more intentional with your time! Luckily for our case, my husband was involved with a lot of our school happenings (including being in our school music together…that’s a whole new blog post in itself!) so we did spend time together during these events.
4. Find joy in each event.
When all is said and done, we are creating experiences for our students. Particularly in events like All State and All County, the directors mostly watch rehearsal and have minimal responsibilities. I loved having conversations with my students over lunch about their rehearsals and the experiences they were having. I also love watching the clinicians and learning new rehearsal techniques or finding new repertoire. As much work as they are to organize and prepare, these kinds of events are extremely inspiring and contribute to personal growth.
Now that it’s April, I come home at a normal time. I cook dinner. I’ve caught up on TV shows I have missed dearly. At times, I have caught myself feeling bored, but then I remind myself that I would have done anything for a day like this in March, and I enjoy the time of rest. 🙂
How do you manage busy times at school? Share in the comments below, or continue the conversation on twitter @LindsayBrazell
[Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lisarupp/]