Managing Expectations

September kicked off with my supervisor challenging our department to identify a word that would set the tone for our school year.  Perhaps it would be a word that would inspire us, or maybe push us outside our comfort zones.  The word might sum up our instructional goal for the year or consider the social and emotional health of our students.  It could be a word that would encompass work/life balance or acknowledge the many roles we inhabit as teachers. 

The reaction was mixed.  Some colleagues thought of their word right away, others didn't think they could possible come up with one any time soon.  But I was ready! I had already determined my word for the school year.  Well, it was a phrase, really.  Managing Expectations!  I was so excited to have the opportunity to roll it out!  

What did I mean by managing expectations?  What didn't I mean?  That was the beauty of the phrase!  It can apply it to so many different areas, to so many different groups, and it is both hopeful and cautionary at the same time!  It is exactly what I need to keep in mind as I head back to the classroom.

First, I need to manage expectations of myself.  A week into school, my mother's condition was beginning to deteriorate and it was a priority to spend as much time as I could with her.  I worked visits with her around my school day, and one day left halfway through the day because it occurred to me I was not where I most needed to be in that moment.  I needed to give myself the space to be with her as often as I could be. I needed to give myself the grace to grieve and feel the burden of sadness.  I needed to take care of myself and support my girls.  And I needed to be gentle with myself when I felt distracted, foggy and numb.

I need to manage expectations of my administrators, both of whom are new.  I need to manage expectations of my colleagues, learning new curriculum and trying to remember what a "normal" year started like!  I need to manage expectations of parents, concerned about how their children are adjusting and keeping up after so many long months of remote, hybrid and distanced learning.  I need to manage expectations of students, themselves, who are struggling with stamina and social skills.  Many are below grade level, so I must meet them where they are and work to move them.  I need to manage expectations of my own pace and what is feasible in light of all of the above!

Then there's managing expectations in my personal life.  I am a mother to three grown children.  They are strong, independent women and make their own choices, including their own mistakes.  I manage expectations of how much (or little!) I influence them now.  I manage expectations of how much of their lives I am privy to.  I manage expectation of my friends.  Being single and an empty nester, I recognize that many friends do not have the freedoms I do and are not available to me at times.  I manage expectations of my siblings, acknowledging that we are spread out with busy careers and families.  I manage expectations of my aging mind and body.  I work to embrace the inevitable course of nature and feel gratitude for all that I CAN do.

Managing expectations sets me up for success!  I think about what is reasonable, what is doable.  I think about how to best plan and implement. I think about how to bring balance to my work and home life.  Often when I am feeling stressed, I turn to managing expectations to get a different perspective.

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