Assist! I am unable to convey my coat to a gathering?

Dear WeAreTeachers,
We have a monthly after-school teachers’ meeting, which usually lasts about an hour. After our last faculty meeting, my principal stopped me on my way out and asked if I could keep my purse and coat in my classroom from now on. When I asked why, he said it was because “it seems like I want to go home” and people at school see me as a leader. What do I do with this absolutely insane request? – Deep coat

Dear DC,

I’m going to make a wild assumption here, so bear with me. I’m guessing that like other people with responsibilities that extend outside of school, you bring your coat and purse because you have those responsibilities to take care of after the meeting is over? You don’t live at the school, right?

Unless you’re banging your keys in the director’s face during the meeting, or packed up for the entire meeting with all your winter gear (à la Joey), I don’t see what’s wrong with carrying your stuff with you. Just as marital disputes are seldom about the actual dishes, I suspect there’s more at stake here than your outerwear.

Explain to your principal why it makes sense to take your things with you. Also explain that you want to be a positive leader. Ask (gently and curiously, not snappishly) if your principal saw you negatively impacting staff in any other way, or if this is an isolated case.

While your principal should certainly have taken the initiative to have a professional conversation sooner, a direct request could open the lines of communication to get to the heart of the matter.

Dear WeAreTeachers,
Sometimes I feel so thin between my job, parenting, and other responsibilities that I have a hard time organizing myself during my prep time. What is the best way to get what I need done during prep time and how can I prioritize my work? – Stresses in Pinecrest

Dear SIP,

First, accept that a teacher’s to-do list is constantly evolving. There is always more to do, always there are places in your teaching that you could refine or update, always things that you need to tidy up, organize or declutter. It sounds depressing, but it’s also kind of liberating. You’ll never tick everything off, so focus on what you can do during your prep time.

Our WeAreTeachers team have put together some great tips to make the most of your prep time:

Eliminate distractions: If you really need to multitask, customize digital notifications so you don’t get pinged all the time. Consider locking your door during your planning phase or getting a sign to put up to temporarily divert people. If someone needs you, they call your office phone.

Prioritize your tasks: Looking at a to-do list can feel impossible when it’s a hundred things long. Instead, sort the tasks into three categories. The things you need to get done today, by the end of the week, and on occasion. Then, within those categories, you can choose which ones make the most sense and when.

Give yourself a break: Don’t forget that this is one of your only chances to catch your breath during the day. Even if you only take a few minutes, it’s worth it. Get some fresh air outside. Tune in to a meditation podcast or nature sounds, and turn off your neon lights for a while. Do some chair yoga (I did pose #4 from this website today and was blown away by how much my neck and back needed it).

Dear WeAreTeachers,
I live down the street from one of my students and made the mistake of offering to drive his parents to school every day. Some days he’s ready and watching over me, but most days I wait in the driveway for between 5 and 10 minutes. How can I rescind this offer without affecting my relationship with the parents and the student? – Drive myself insane

Dear DMN,

I don’t think you necessarily need to rescind the offer. But I would check with your administration if they agree with this arrangement for several reasons. A normal meeting room with no other witnesses? An everyday accident potential? That sounds like a liability that every district wants to avoid. And if they stop the operation, you don’t have to. “I’m so sorry but I mentioned our carpooling to my principal and he said I can’t pick up David anymore. This is against county policy.”

“Sorry, my mom said no” is often the easiest (and truest) way out.

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Dear WeAreTeachers,
I’ve always enjoyed sharing my classes with my partner teacher, especially since this is only her second year. However, I recently discovered one of my activities on Teachers Pay Teachers. After some searching, I found that she has uploaded almost all of my lessons and sells the resources I’ve created for between $5 and $15. I am angry. What can I do? —Hello, I would like to report a mental intrusion

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