It is funny that I often come back to needing space in my home, work, relationships, etc. My blog is called space2live. I started it in 2011. Space still is a central theme in my existence.
I am squeezing the composing of this post into a tight two hour window on a Thursday evening. I publish every Friday at 3PM CDT. It is the only time I have had this week to sit down and write.
On Monday, I started a new class schedule at work. I am a special education paraprofessional at the local high school. My new schedule has no space. I am feeling the old pangs of overload. The ones I used to feel when I had three small children at home.
Could you please be two places at once
I love my job. I especially enjoy building relationships with students and staff. There is a lot of physical work but I like being active. My watch tells me I achieve my workout goal every day at work. I keep students focused and productive in class by redirecting them, taking notes and helping with testing. I also help other physically impaired students maneuver through the building and restrooms.
The real problem is there is no downtime or space to make each student feel covered and secure. During the course of one 86 minute class period (we call it a block schedule), I may come and go four different times. I leave to help in another classroom and in the restroom.
Caring for multiple people at once = nightmare
It often feels like just when a student needs my help, I have to leave. I have figured out that I feel the most stressed when trying to take care of multiple people at once. I fail. I always let someone down and sometimes I let everyone down.
After a long day of running around at work, I am tired. I go home and keep going. I realize my lament is the familiar cry of most working parents/partners. I also realize I am not very fun to be around when I am overwhelmed. I tend to get mad and short with my words instead of calmly and patiently asking for help.
What I see as the solution is, more space in the schedule.
Working six or eight hour days is not the problem. The structure of the schedule is. Multitasking does not work. Multitasking the care of people is especially problematic. The students I work with are a vulnerable population. They have ADHD, high anxiety, physical impairments, autism, Down Syndrome and other mental challenges. Cutting in and out of their care, does not help them or anyone, progress. In fact, I believe irregular and haphazard care is what causes a lot of anxiety and insecurity for the kids, be it at school or at home or both.
The previous semester I worked with fewer kids and spent more time in each classroom. I was told I was not being utilized enough. Administration’s response was to make sure I had no time in my schedule to sit and prepare for the next task.
It really is OK to spend time in one place
Preparation is difficult when we move from event to event without any space for reflection, organization or rest. My brain feels frazzled most of the time. I forget things. Do you?
I plan to talk with one or two of the supervisors. They asked for ideas or suggestions during my review. One suggestion is to keep people in one place for longer periods. Another idea is to keep some consistency between paras and children. The more changes, the more stress for everyone, unless the current arrangement clearly is not working. Making our para schedule is an extremely detailed and arduous job. I would never want it.
I will always fight for space though.
Thanks for listening to my work rant.
What overwhelms you the most? I wonder if I would be so stressed if I was making widgets… How do you create space?