Don’t worry, this isn’t a post about how we have to clean up our planet, drive electric cars and minimize our dependence on oil and petroleum products. I should be honest though, its inspiration was rooted in a radio show about that very topic. I was driving to work and listenting to an argument about whether the strain the oil industry was putting on the environment was sustainable or not. On one side was an oil company firmly convinced that the amount of water they utilized from the river was a reasonably small amount of a huge water source, on the other side an environmentalist arguing that the strain put on the waterway would eventually lead to destruction.
Sustainability has been on my mind a lot lately, as I reflect on my career choice, but also as I look around at the members of our staff. We sure do ask a lot out of teachers, we ask them to teach our kids, model for our kids, care for our kids, protect our kids and when all of that is done we expect them to volunteer a little extra time to coach our teams, direct our plays, run an after-school club or lead a field trip. With all we ask of our teachers, they step up, they do it and they do more. It is because teachers are willing to give so much that we continue to pile on more and more, ask them to know this, to learn about that, and we can at times lose sight of just how much they do for us.
It is easy to get excited about a new program or initiative, to want to implement new assessment strategies or pedagogical practices, even to offer every teacher-run extracurricular activity imaginable. We need to always consider what we are asking of our teachers and whether or not it is too much. As administrators we should help develop a direction for our buildings, but we need to focus on a reasonable, or sustainable, number of responsibilities we expect of our staffs. Our teachers, along with our education assistants, our secretaries, our librarians and our custodians, they are the river and we must be sure that the demands we place on them are sustainable.