And Summers Off

A few years ago the teachers of my school district came close to going on strike. Instead, though, the union decided that we should ‘work to the rule,’ meaning that we would only do what was in our current (expired) contract. Our hours would be 7:30 am to 3:00 pm each day, not a moment longer; nor were we supposed to take any work home. We were not to make any non-reimbursable expenditures, attend any games or activities, give up our lunches or conference periods.

My first reaction to all of this was, “How will I get anything done?” Though I have a free period each day for grading and planning, I used to do most of my work before and after school. Everyone knows that the worst thing a teacher can do is walk into the classroom without a plan.

But ‘working to the rule’ didn’t go as badly as I feared. Most of the papers got graded, and if they didn’t, nobody complained. Having in mind what I needed to do each day, I didn’t need written plans most of the time. I learned to be more flexible and spontaneous. In fact, though I had less time, I got more done.

And I learned something else: Any task will condense or expand to fill whatever time you give it. More

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