40 Book Challenge Revisited

It’s been a while since the excitement of the 4o Book Challenge began.  And I HATE to say that that excitement may have weaned a little bit.  Remember back when I told my class about it, and everyone was really energized by it?  Ready to do it and not at all worried?  And remember how my friend Brittany asked if I would do it, too, and I begrudgingly gladly accepted?  Yes?  Well let me update you on how it’s going.

First of all, I feel like I should share with you what my kiddos are saying about it.  Of course, as with any important thing in our class, it becomes a topic on our blog.  I’m excited to say that the topic has come up multiple times in the “What I liked…” section of their notes for student-led conferences (yes, that is a topic I’m going to add here soon!), and that many have WAY over half of their challenge done already!

As a reminder, the challenge looked like this:

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Requirements for the 40 Book Challenge, which is inspired by Donalyn Miller’s The Book Whisperer.

Not surprisingly (at least to me), most kiddos started with what they know and what they love: fiction.  Many of them knocked out Realistic Fiction first, then did their chapter book choice, and then tried mystery before they got a little annoyed by my list.  Still, they trudged on, heading towards informational and poetry.  I was noticing, though, that there has been very little traditional literature or biography/autobiography/memoir showing up in the hands of my readers lately (more on that later).

What?  You want to know how I’m doing with the 40 Book Challenge?  Me?  Well….

I’m gonna be really honest with you that I have not been doing my part to keep up with the 40 Book Challenge like I’d hoped and like I’d expected.  I think I am probably at 5 or 6.  I know, right???  YUCK!  I have had very good intentions, and I truly believe in the importance of showing my reading life to my students, but like I mentioned earlier, I’m having a hard time finding  prioritizing time to make it happen.  There always seems to be something else to do, you know?!  But I WANT to make it happen (I really feel like I’m letting my friends down!), and since I don’t make resolutions, I guess it’s time to make a goal and a plan to achieve it.  And I’d love your help!

How do you make time to read inside your busy life?  What do you leave out so that you have that time (there are, after all, only 24 hours in a day!)?  What suggestions do you have for me to achieve my challenge goal by the end of the school year?  Come on, I KNOW a lot of you are readers, and I want to be one, too! 🙂

Torn

Yep.  It’s been almost a month to the day that I was last here.  Whoa, right?  And so as I begin, I feel like I should warn you now–this might turn into a real-life post, not one of those typical “here’s-what-we-did-and-here’s-why” kind of thing that you usually see around here.  I think I’m about to get real honest.  But don’t worry.  I’ll keep it clean.  There are kids around here, after all (well, and I guess if you really know me, I’d keep it clean anyway. 🙂 )!

So here’s the thing…right now I feel like I am being pulled in a million different directions.  All of them good directions, mind you, but different nonetheless.  And me being me, I want to do my absolute best at all of them.  And so…I’m torn.  What’s the most important thing?  How do I manage my time and resources to have time for that thing?  And then  how do I decide what that thing is?  Priorities are hard for me.  To me, they’re all important things.

In this season of life, I find myself being a wife, mother, teacher, grad student, blogger, ball juggler, plate-in-the-air-keeper, friend, daughter, and probably lots of other things I can’t even think of (because that list is already so long)!  And like I said, it is in my genes to want to do the best possible job I can in all of those things.  But that’s so hard!  Case in point: this blog.  Poor neglected blog.  Blog that I love. But because I’ve been working like crazy to do a great job at the other things on the list, the “blogger” part of me has been moved down the list of importance.  Also insert the fact that there is often just enough time to actually do the things I want to write about, and then no time to do the writing about those things!  I have at least 10 blog posts waiting to be written, pictures to accompany them, and loads of fabulous stories of the amazing things happening in my classroom right now, but again–where do I find time to tell you about them?  Probably the hardest part of this scenario is that besides writing for you, I write for myself–it’s like therapy, you know?–and so that part is missing for me right now, too.  But…I’m torn.  What has to give for that time to be made?  I can’t choose not to be a mom.  I can’t choose not to finish the homework for my school law class on time.  I can’t not get the plans ready for tomorrow at school.

I know what you’re thinking: stop whining.  Figure out how to make it all work in the time that you have.  Take some things off your plate.  Heck, you might even tell me to sleep less so I have more hours in my day (although, I hope that’s not your answer, because I’m really tired right now!).

But really–how do you make it all work?  How do you find time to do all the things you need (and want) to do without really just feeling like you’re doing  a crummy job at them all (and I’m really asking here, so hopefully you’re compiling the answer you’re going to leave me in the comments in a second when you’re done reading this)?  I want to work less, but when there’s a meeting before school, at plan and after school more days than not in a week, I have to bring my work home in order for it to get done.  But once I get home, I obviously want (and need) to be a wife and mom–dinner has to be made (as well as lunches for the next day), dishes and laundry have to be done, and if I’m lucky I will find time to snuggle with my favorite 2YO before she scoots off to bed at 7 and read with my favorite 1st grader before he’s asleep at 7:30.

Alright….I have lots of other things tumbling around in my brain right now, but every time I start to write them they seem like I’m just complaining–which is really the last thing I want to do.  Because really I don’t find any of this troubling in itself; many of the things on my list of “busyness” are things I do by choice.  I just want to find a way to do them all well, so that I don’t look back in the years to come and regret anything.  I don’t want to miss anything along the way or let anyone down….and so, I’m torn.  Is it possible to have it all?

I’m going to ask again, just so we’re clear that I want some feedback here (does it help if I say “please?”): How do you find the time to fit all the things you want and need to do into the time you have?  What structures do you have in place to help you be efficient with your time? How do you decide what’s important?  (And no, I can’t just quit my job and run away to Disney World.  But don’t think I haven’t considered that!)  What advice do you have for me as I sift through my long list of have-tos to find balance?

Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.  🙂  And yes, someday soon I hope to be able to come back and actually tell you about all those fabulous classroom-happenings.  But you know, by then the list will probably have doubled!