Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The interruptions ARE the job.

Today was frustrating - until I had a visit from a ghost.

It was one of those days - I was organised and had my “to-do-list” ready. I was focused. I was energetic. I was efficient.

I was also popular.

From the moment I arrived at my desk and turned on the computer there was an endless stream of knocks at the door. Students wanting to discuss assignments, students wanting clarification, students wanting to discuss some items for their professional portfolio - even one student not sure what question she wanted to ask but sure that she needed to talk to me to clarify what her question should be. My trip to the cafeteria for a much needed coffee turned into a student ambush and a discussion with a group of half a dozen more students after assignment advice. Then there were colleagues with questions about previous units or asking for some ICT advice.

All the time I was busy and productive - but my to-do-list had not been touched. My frustration levels were rising. My self imposed deadline was looming. And then I had a message from a ghost.

I remembered a conversation, one sentence really, that I had with the principal at my first appointment decades ago. He had obviously had a busy day - frantic in fact. It was towards the end of his professional life and he was beginning to show the signs of a demanding career. He slumped into the arms of a poorly padded chair in the staff room with a world weary sigh just as the phone went. Again. He was needed in the office. I asked him as he pushed his way up from his seat “Do you ever get sick and tired of all the interruptions?” He gave me a weary smile and answered “Nev - the interruptions ARE the job.”

How true that is.

We do not do paperwork and administration for the sake of administration. Our fundamental purpose is to educate - to assist students to learn. Everything else is secondary - important perhaps, but secondary.

So I leave the office today with my “to-do-list” untouched - but I did my job well.

Dedication: To Dallas Shadbolt - “The interruptions are the job.”

Illustration credit =


  1. Great post. I use to tell leadership students that if you don't have ADHD when you become a principal you will have it soon after to start. My blog is for guys like you who have a few minutes at the end of the day for self development after everyone leaves you alone. Check it our at DrDougGreen.Com. Keep up the good work.

  2. Nice post. Your job must take a lot of patience. I see that you love your job. Keep it up!
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  3. Hi Cielle,
    Yes – I love my job but it does require patience on occasion – but then any job dealing with people does I think. Thanks for making contact.