Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My 30 Day Plan to Separate Church & State

Loyal readers may have noticed that my posting history is an interesting one. I started this blog many moons ago without any focus or capitalization, and somehow I've wound up here. With you.

In the beginning I posted on the minutiae of my day and even tried my hand at poetry, but at present I mostly tease you with my successful culinary goodies and ask you to laugh with me about my kitchen disasters. I've moved the minutiae to Twitter, and some of you (bless your hearts) have even decided to follow me there.

Frequency of posting has fluctuated too. In March of 2009, I posted 27 times. That's one more post than the sum total of my posts in the year 2007. In spring 2009, I posted nearly daily, even without a working computer to call my own. I was a woman on a mission.

Then came summer and job applications and angst and an overwhelming apathy towards cupcakes. In August I got a job, moved to Georgia, and signed on for a whole new set of stressors better known as my 109 first year writing students. Cooking and baking has, of late, been my coping mechanism of choice so bring on the baking and blogging, right?!

Well... in theory.

This semester my blogging has been anything but consistent. When I've appeared to be on task and posting several times a week, it's only because I've sat down on a Sunday night, written three posts, and scheduled them for the coming week. I've started to treat blogging like homework. And for a teacher, that's not a good thing.

So, after some reflection, the reason for this behavior has come to me in an Oprah-like Aha! moment.

My work and my life have become one.

If I were not a teacher, I would be deemed a workaholic. However, it seems to be the predominant assumption that teachers are their work.

No one chastises a teacher for working on lesson plans on Saturday. No one scolds a teacher for heading home after a 10 hour day on campus and settling down to read student papers after dinner. Teachers who respond promptly to emails - no matter what time of day or night they are sent - are considered the "good" ones; those who only respond during certain hours are considered particular at best, and negligent more often than not. For some reason, our culture expects teachers to live for the classroom and I, as a new teacher, have done my best to comply with this expectation.

Within the first weeks, I learned that work would take over my life, so I responded by allowing life to seep into my work. If I'm going to be working all hours of the day and night, I figured I might as well allow myself little pleasures throughout the actual workday to break up the monotony. Therein lies the (social networking) rub.

Between 6:30am and 4:30pm, I'm always on. I tweet about the parking gate. I catch up on blogs when office hours are slow. I check Facebook during lunch. (I can't justify it during office hours for fear of being caught by students!) I compulsively check email addresses that will keep me posted on blog comments, Facebook messages, and new Twitter followers because... well... it's just that important.

And when I finally leave the office for the day, I go home to do much of the same. The social networks are all still there, but then again, so is my work. Student papers, lesson plans, grade rubrics, plaintive emails... they're all there.

So what I'm left with is a workday that starts at 6:30am and doesn't really end until I go to sleep. Or, if I'm lucky, until primetime television starts. Things slack off when I go home, for sure, but it's more like that last hour of work in an office setting after the boss leaves but before you clock out for the day: procrastination and general tomfoolery are not as covert, but when projects or deadlines loom, everyone gets serious.

No wonder I live for the weekends. They really are the only times I punch out. That is, until Sunday when I attempt to make up for my "absences".

For the past couple of weeks, I've been trying to come up with a 30 day challenge for myself that will give me something to do. I've contemplated adopting a raw food diet, meeting one new person each day, or forcing myself to the gym every day. None of these ideas really grabbed me, but now that I've had this Aha! moment, I know exactly what to do.

Over the next 30 days, I am going to rescue my life from my work. I'm going to separate church and state once and for all. (Well... once... we'll see about the "for all" bit at the end of 30 days.) I'm going to divorce my work life from social networking and frivolity of all sorts. I will then insert more work into work hours and reduce the amount of time spent on work at home in my "off" time.

Here are the rules.

1. NO social networking between 6:30am and 4:30pm, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or between 6:30am and 12pm, Tuesday and Thursday.

Facebook, Twitter, and blogs (mine and others) are verboten in the workplace, even on lunch breaks when the office door gets closed.

2. NO class planning or work email checking on personal computer.

This is going to be a tough rule to follow. But... if all goes according to plan with #1, I should free up office time in which I can plan classes, post assignments, deal with student emails and the like.

3. Paper grading, though probably done at least partially at home, will be rigorously monitored.

When presented with student papers, I will establish a reasonable schedule and hold myself to it. Naturally, social networking is verboten during scheduled grading times.

This is my challenge, should I choose to accept it. I haven't accepted it yet, because, well, I bet you can guess where I am at the moment... and it's not at home.

But you know what? Kick in the rear time. I accept this challenge and it will officially start tomorrow morning at 6:30am. With Day One as Thursday, Oct. 29th, I'll finish Day Thirty on November 27th.

I'll be updating you on my progress, but do feel free to call me out if I waver. You have timestamps. Keep me honest.


Evan said...

Amazing. I'm not sure how you could possibly do this. If you pull it off, though, all the more power to you. I'm waiting for a student conference now, checking your blog, btw.

Does this mean that you won't be on gchat during the day? :(

kmari03 said...

Did you stop at all to think how this is going to affect me?? What will I do if I need to network in off hours?

That said, good luck!!

Kate said...

I fully support you in this effort except for the reason above - what's going to happen when I need you during those no-no hours?

Still, I've always wondered exactly why teachers thought it was acceptable to let their jobs take over their lives. I really thought there was some teacher elitism going on. I'm glad to learn that isn't the case and that you're rising above.

Amber said...

reporters are also supposed to be on at all times and I definitely almost never check my email at home and avoid getting a Blackberry like the plague.

Kate said...

If this was on Facebook, I'd click the like button. But, seriously, sounds like a great idea!

Ash said...

What a challenge! But a great one!

sorry, I'm already making this harder for you.. I think this will be three comments down now. haha

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I think this sounds like a really good plan. I hope you can stick to it - I think you will feel better for it.

Me! said...

I can accept this as long as you maintain your blog posts and the quality of the posts does not decline. however, if they do, rest assured you will know about it.

(oh and good luck)

m said...

i think you're becoming the pat. so, the hedrick.

sigh. i knew this day would come...

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