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Guest Thinkers

Scaling back

It’s tough to know when to scale back. We have causes and people that we’re committed to, responsibilities that we want to fulfill, teams that we want to support, and workloads that we want to share.


However, there are times when one must step away. For example, despite three valiant years of trying, I have discovered that I simply cannot do all of the following:

  • Coordinate and grow the ISU Educational Administration program;
  • Direct and grow a national center (CASTLE);
  • Be a national thought leader on the topic of technology leadership;
  • Be a thought leader in Iowa on the topics of technology leadership, 1:1 computing, 21st century skills, and online learning;
  • Be a national thought leader in educational administration academe regarding technology-related issues;
  • Be an active learner and participant in the world of social media;
  • Serve as primary advisor to 38 doctoral students;
  • Effectively teach two courses per semester, including summers;
  • Engage in scholarly research and writing at a level sufficient for an AAU research institution;
  • Coordinate multiple external grants and contracts worth over $250,000;
  • Fulfill all of the service and committee requirements that accompany being the sole tenured faculty member in my program;
  • Be a good colleague to my academic and other professional peers; and
  • Be an excellent husband and father of three young children.
  • Heaven knows I’ve tried. But there are not enough hours in the week to do it all. I don’t have any down time. Ever. No time to breathe, no time for my brain to wander in unknown but needed directions, no time to stay up with current trends and my personal learning network. It’s just a constant press. All the time. My student advising has suffered, my previously-excellent teaching has suffered, my ability to stay on top of my administrative and scholarly work has suffered. I’m juggling too many balls and dropping them left and right.

    So I’m scaling back. I have resigned my position as program coordinator of the Educational Administration program effective immediately. I’m only teaching one online course this summer and am on sabbatical in the fall, which means I won’t be teaching any courses or doing any institutional service work. I will find other ways to reduce my time commitments and better target my efforts.

    Things I will be catching up on:

    • Teaching. Our School Technology Leadership courseworkis long overdue. I have had to push back our start dates four times now. I desperately want and need to get that going.
    • Writing. I’ve got 10 books in my head. I’d like to get at least 3 of them (1 authored, 2 edited) out the door by the end of this fall.
    • Program development. Our preservice principal preparation program needs a major overhaul to meet the current and future demands of the principalship.
    • CASTLE. We’ve got some amazing opportunities ahead for CASTLE if we can get them up and running.
    • Thinking. I need down time to read and reflect, rinse and repeat.
    • I am looking forward to recalibrating my life. I am looking forward to dedicating more time to things I love and less to things I don’t. How about you? Do you need to take the difficult step of saying no to some things? Do you need to scale back too?

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