Was there a time that I didn’t have too many projects?
A time when I could really feel that it didn’t matter when I woke up or if I took a few naps during the day because my time was simply that: my time.
Writing this, I know the answer: no matter if I have projects or not, time is always ‘my time’. There’s always a given that I have an element of choice. Whether or not I show up at my job, or spend hours and hours preparing for a specific presentation, there’s always an element of self-determination. I’m not browbeaten into doing something – but rather there’s a moment where through my own logic and assessment of desire, I’ve agreed to participate in the event.
Take, for example, teaching. I went into it by ‘mistake’. The story was that I approached the Education Ministry in Tel Aviv way back when I first moved to the city. I wanted to work on an English Children’s Theatre. They listened politely and then suggested that I join in a special new course for new immigrants with a B.A. to become an English Teacher. The Ministry then smiled and added that I’d be free to implement ‘theatre’ in my lessons! Win-win! (they said). After much pondering and discussion with members of my commune (artists, musicians, photographers), I decided that it would be rational to have a teaching certificate as a surefire way to earn a living in my newfound homeland.
Thus, I embarked on a life that I’d agreed to: waking up early to take 3 buses to school, studying, returning home, doing shopping for a household, sharing in meal preparation (usually only one meal, served in the evening), doing my batik, practicing my bongos, doing voice work and making puppets, participating in house events and getting a few hours sleep before repeating the schedule. After 7 months of this, I received my teacher’s certificate, and incorporated English teaching into my regular schedule of puppetry and all the rest.
This was back in 1980. I taught wonderful Puppet English for many years in many locations and only in 1986 did I actually start working in schools. I tried to serve the English Ministry well by incorporating theatre into my lessons, but it was the natural pantomime sort which came from my lack of translation skills. To define vocabulary items, I had to use drama. And, of course, I insisted that my students also use it to practice their English.
So back to the title of this blogpost: too many projects. I’ve always had a variety of projects running simultaneously. These days the threads involve teaching, researching, creating materials and studying, while constantly studying how to make more meaningful contact with students’ natural curiousity.
Time for reflection is perhaps the most important element that I’ve added to the mix. Constant evaluation and thoughtful re-framing so that I don’t beat myself up over a lesson that didn’t shoot straight into a student’s brain.
Some things take time. What might appear as a missed target may in fact reap rewards years from now. Hayuta, a now retired teacher, once told me that when teaching Special Ed students, for example, to expect visible results only after 4 years. This long term timeframe does wonders for one’s stress level. Things take time. Any project takes time.
But whether I’m building a presentation, a lesson or a puppet, each step towards the desired outcome is a good step. Even if I change directions and start again – each step is a good, creative step.
Too many projects? There’s always something waiting patiently for me to pay it some attention.
- Like the discarded chair my cousin and I found in the garbage: I’m going to fix it up.
- Like the puppet for Adele: I’m going to build it.
- Like the talk for HOTS (higher order thinking skills) I’m going to finish.
- Like Lesson 9 out of 12 of my online course.
- Like the shirts I want to design, cut and sew.
- Like the book review of Martina’s new book that I’ve begun and need to finish
You get the idea.
Lots of projects. Of course! Lots of opportunity for new ideas. Yeah! Makes it exciting. For sure!