I always cringe when I hear the word, diet. It brings back memories of my days as a competitive wrestler before the sensible and required certification process that now exists. I would play football at 170 or so and a month later would be wrestling at about 130. It wouldn’t take long to put on the weight after the season and, often, more went on then came off. Even in my adult life the word diet has meant eating less, exercising more until the weight was off and then ending the diet. Of course this also meant that the weight usually came back in spades, though it was sneaky. Which is why I know longer diet, instead I changed my lifestyle. I eat smaller portions that look just as big because I use only small plates. I plan what I am going to eat and stay by the plan. As the weight came off, I donated my clothes that no longer fit to charity (my closet contained pants from 33 to 42 inch waists, now only 33-36 and some of those are going to go soon). It is too easy to just size up instead of attacking the problem. Too many people view diets as a temporary state of being and the result is a yoyo of ups and downs. Tightening your belt should be permanent or else the process is just a useless exercise in frustration.
In our era of tighten budgets and budget cuts, we need to look at how we can make a lifestyle change instead on just viewing the cuts as a temporary diet. My district, like many others, has had to make some large, difficult cuts. 80 teachers were placed on unrestricted leave last week, the largest reduction in the history of the district. We are looking at a budget reduction of the same or more to make next week. This is year’s cuts also impacted technology. We need to reduce licensing fees that has resulted in the removal of more than a 1000 computers. Yet this reduction has forced us to look at and evaluate how we deploy and use computers, what software is necessary, and, I hope, is forcing us into a lifestyle change. We have too often in the past brought in new technology without removing outdated technology. We have deployed great new software without providing enough continuing staff development. Our initial staff development has been thoughtful and carefully administered, but like just putting on bigger pants, we tend to ignore those that don’t ask for help once the training has been completed.
I don’t think that this change is simply doing more with less but rather doing better with what we have. We aren’t on a diet anymore. We need to evaluate what is necessary, what we like, and what we need. We need to get rid of the excess. And we need to realize that even when more funds are available we have to be careful so the weight doesn’t come back.