- Attend a professional conference?
- Take a vacation?
I attended the UELMA conference yesterday and by the end of it I actually wasn't disgruntled anymore, so I guess it was a success. (The fact that I am now heading into a much needed week-long vacation probably contributed to that feeling as well.)
My main takeaway can be summed up in this quote from keynote speaker Leslie Preddy:
Figure out what your community needs, and fulfill that need.
This is a message that I heard again and again yesterday, not just from her but presenters in other sessions.
Lately I've been feeling frustrated professionally. I feel like I am doing a lot of different things but none of them very well, and perhaps not the right things or the best things for the right reasons. Quite possibly, I am doing some things that are not what my community needs. (An incredible source did inform me recently that my judgment is a little off right now.)
Coinciding with this feeling, my attendance at the conference felt obligatory and I wasn't excited about it at all, which is unusual for me. Last year I was so into UELMA I volunteered to present at it. In past years I also attended another professional conference happening around the same time; this year I didn't even sign up for that one. Last-year-me couldn't understand people who got grumpy about going to conferences like this or doing professional development, and yet here I am. Not sure how this happened.
This message I got from the conference, and my subsequent vacation, will I hope help me to evaluate what I am doing and what I am not doing, see what things I can do better, and possibly see what things I may be holding onto that I can let go. Things I've been holding onto because they are just how it has always been done. Things I've felt pressure to implement not even because someone asked or I see it as a need, but simply because they are the new cool things that everyone should supposedly be doing, and I want to be seen doing those things. Things I've been resisting, or just putting off. Figure out what exactly my community needs that I can offer to them. Figure out who my community actually is, for that matter.
If nothing else, in a week I will see what, if anything, people complain about missing in my absence. I think I have a distorted sense of how needed my services are at work. But who knows? I never take vacations like this in the middle of the school year, although I have a lot of time built up. I feel guilty about it. I feel a little bit afraid of what I might miss, and that I might be perceived as a slacker. And then I feel resentful to my job that it makes me feel guilty for taking a vacation, and it gets worse. Further signs I probably need a vacation.
This is all hypothetical of course. So far, I've only completed step one. I'll let you know the results of my experimentation in a week or two.
*My official job title, which I pretty much never use. That's another post, though.