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It’s Your Time

Susan Collins Social Issues

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Me: I’ll have the breakfast special.

Server: how would you like your eggs?

Me: scrambled

Server: bacon, ham, sausage, or turkey sausage?

Me: bacon, very crisp.

Server: white, wheat, rye, sourdough, English Muffin, or blueberry muffin?

Me: ooooh, blueberry muffin.

Server: grilled?

Me: sure.

Server: Anything to drink?

It seems that simply ordering breakfast requires an endless number of decisions.

When doing an internet search on how many decisions a teacher makes each day, the typical number is 1,500. I recently read an article on that discusses this situation and the fatigue it causes for educators. A related article on the same site gives seven ways to make better decisions. Both pieces provide sound advice on healthy decision-making.

The one thing that really struck me was that nothing I read addressed the need for time to ponder options or process possibilities. When I look at my daily schedule, I am constantly moving from one responsibility to the next. I am on campus at 6:30am, supervising students at 6:45am, actively teaching by 7:25am. I teach 7-8 30 minute classes per day and an after-school performance group that meets twice per week. I’m busy every day, and I’m usually exhausted when I get home.

As I write this, I’m starting the first day of my winter break. It’s not a paid vacation, but it is much needed for my physical and mental health.

What are some things I plan to do during this break?

Turn off the alarm (though I will still wake up about the same time most days).
Stay in my PJs while I drink my coffee, read my meditation, and check the news.
Hang out with my college kids who are home.
Read a few mindless novels.
Go on a hike (or 3).

I will also reflect on this past semester and note what worked, what I will change, and what I want to try next year. One of the reasons that breaks are so important to me is that it is a time when I can slow my pace and really reflect on my teaching.

I need unstructured time to really reflect and process to be creative.

What are you doing with your time during the break to refresh?

Set aside time for your needs (personal and professional), and guard it like it’s non-negotiable!


Susan Collins began her teaching career in 1991 in rural Mississippi. She served in 4 different communities in central and north Mississippi as a music educator, mostly elementary general music with one year as a middle school band director. She stepped out of working full-time in the classroom for 9 years when her children were very young but never left teaching. She set up an early childhood music studio and taught music from birth to age 5 (with an adult caregiver). Susan moved to Kingman in northwest rural Arizona in 2016 where she teaches k-5 general music. Susan achieved National Board Certification in the fall of 2016, just after moving to Arizona. She has served as a 2017-18 Arizona Hope Street Group Teacher Fellow and a Candidate Support Provider for National Board Candidates. She is passionate about advocating for the needs of rural schools and ensuring that every student receives an excellent education. When she is not teaching, advocating, or writing about education issues, she is outdoors hiking, reading, and going to musical performances. She can often be found off the grid pondering her next writing piece!

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