Jane A.G. Kise & Ann C. Holm, ASCD, 2022.

‘Bandwidth’ is our energy or ‘willpower’: if we waste it on minor aspects of our day, we won’t have a ‘full tank’ to focus on the important. (I’ve also heard this called ‘decision fatigue’: have the same breakfast, wear similar colours every day etc)

There is a ‘bandwidth survey’ to take, with a score, to identify whether you have a ‘Good’, Mediocre or Problematic Bandwidth. Reading the descriptors (below) gave me a good enough idea of where my bandwidth is currently.

Good bandwidth range = good nutrition, sleep, exercise and maximising effiency in accomplishing tasks; work-life balance so that work and play are enjoyable (most of the time) and accepting and adjusting when it’s a crappy day – we all have them! (I read somewhere else recently to expect 1/3 to be good, 1/3 to be average and 1/3 to be tough. It feels about right, especially if one day a week is a full day of teaching: there’s 20% tough days straight away). Hang in there.

Problematic bandwidth = working in crisis mode, reliance on caffeine, feelings of helplessness and being swamped, not addressing problems that need decisions.

Strategies to develop good bandwidth habits include making good choices easy and poor choices difficult (my examples, have fruit on the bench, only have beer in the fridge on weekends!), use the 80/20 Pareto Principle to define ‘good enough’ rather than pamper your perfectionism, stick to time limits, remove distractors.

Balance priorities – it’s more important to go visit your parents, than to be totally original in every lesson. Visit your parents, use a textbook (I’m moving back to textbooks – the authors were given time, resources and money to develop an excellent resource. Can I really improve on this in my limited time?)

Filter your information – go to one or two trusted sources, set a timer, and you are up to date in the time it takes to consume your morning beverage. Facebook will feed you stories for infinity and beyond!

Focus your attention – multi-tasking is BS. Have a conducive environment (noise cancelling headphones FTW!) or find a quiet corner where no one knows where you are. Turn off phone and email. Sleep is restorative – should we encourage power naps in the staff room?!

Make time work for you: set a timeframe for a task to be completed. Keep it short and tight – in the last part of the time, if it’s 80-85% there, is it good enough? How to finish it up quickly? Or come back to it later for a final burst. The authors suggest efficiency tends to plateau towards the end of a period of time. Know your concentration period – mine is about 1.5 to 2 hours, then I need to move and drink. Doing my Masters, I knew I had four stints of 1:40 with a 20 min break each day to get essays done over a weekend – at the library, not at home!

Build in slack – don’t run meetings right up to each other, give yourself some time. School timetables should perhaps have 5 min between lessons built in – for the benefit of staff and students!

Review: nothing really new in this for me, but some good reminders for the start of the school year.