Whether you're just starting out or have been at this for years, Mike's "get real" approach to business is a much-needed swift kick in the pants. In this book, you'll discover:
* Why a business plan is a total waste of your time.
* Why fulfilling your own needs is the first and last order of business.
* Which three sheets of paper you need to successfully launch, manage and grow your business.
I take the interpretation of this into the teaching frame of reference. From this book, I've realized that planning out the entire school year is a waste of time. It still gets done, but that's more for general pacing than anything else. I have former students coming back to show me their homework for the entire semester on a calendar. You mean to tell me that you know your students and pacing well enough to tell them what page you'll be on 3 months in advance? Please.
Teaching is and always should be focused on the needs of the students. However, this is still a career and we need to be happy in our career (whatever this may be). Checking your sanity and re-checking it are two things that must occur to be successful. Too many times in my teaching career, there have been spurts of time where I was so stressed out about getting a project done or working on the next short-cycle assessment that I forgot about what made me happy- the kids and the interactions I have with them.
The three sheets of paper is the big one.
Warning: This section will get all up in your personal bubble.
We're all adults here (maybe), so we can all maturely reflect on the times that we've used the restroom and the roll of toilet paper has just been restocked. Man, it feels good to peer over and see so many squares of cheap 2-ply loaded up on the roll that we can't help but indulge. It's a natural effect of life: when we have more, we use more. There's no concern about leaving some for the next attendee of the porcelain because there's plenty to be had. We liberally take and don't feel any guilt about it.
In education, for the longest time, it has been similar to this idea. We had more money being thrown at us than a wishing well at a billionare's ball, so we used it. We paid for extra coaches, teachers, supplies, resources, updated technology, and life was great. As teachers, we had everything and then some. As a first year teacher, I can recall getting loaded up with an Interwrite Pad, a set of Qwizdom student response remotes, an Elmo document camera, a ceiling-mounted projector, and two carts of laptops that were to be shared amongst the math teachers at the site. If you want to talk about toilet paper, this was the triple roll that didn't even fit on the TP holder.
My big take from this part of the book is the strategy involved when life is not overflowing with opportunity. With a full roll of paper, the user doesn't have to worry about strategy. Life is good, the problem is resolved, and we move on with our daily routine. When we are down to our last three sheets, we are forced to make decisions that will ultimately lead us into a mess or a sense of accomplishment. As long as I fill the roll after I'm done with this decision, the wife is pretty passive about my dilemma (while at home, of course).
This is the way that classrooms all around the country have been dealing with the current fiscal crisis and constraints on once overflowing budgets. The tech-savvy teachers have found ways around it, but it can get messy at times. The teachers who are on the outside looking in remain just that- onlookers. What we need to grow in the field of education is the belief that we can all make it work with our own three sheets.
In my classroom, we have evolved past the Interwrite Pad, Qwizdoms, laptop cart, and Elmo Doc Cam. All of these have been replaced by an iPad, Apple TV, and a BYOD network. I'm not going to pull wool (or toilet paper) over anyone's eyes and say that it was easy as that. I have an incredibly supportive district and walked into an amazing opportunity after starting www.appsinclass.com with some profoundly intelligent colleagues of mine.
Reading this book gave me more motivation to make a change in what was happening. I was so caught up in watching other teachers around the district, state, country, and world talk about and share all of the incredible overflowing rolls of toilet paper that they were working with. When I looked down at the arsenal in my stall, those three sheets went from a burden to a blessing and I couldn't be happier for the experience they've provided me.
Just make sure, no matter how full the roll is, that you always keep it within reach of your goals.