If you are a teacher in March, chances are you are feeling tired and overwhelmed. At times we find ourselves struggling to manage our to-do list and negotiate what to let go of and what to hang onto. Here are some thoughts of just a few things we need to hold close in these upcoming months.
Most of us have read Jennifer Gonzalez’s (@cultofpedagogy) Find Your Marigold post, (if you haven’t, click out of here and go read that post immediately!) She beautifully describes how new teachers need to “find our marigold” so we can have the right conditions to flourish and grow professionally. At this point in the year, we are gearing up for “testing season” and questioning whether or not we’ve made the difference the energized, September version of ourselves promised months ago. There will be cranky complainers down mostly every hallway in our schools. Walk right on past them and walk directly towards your tribe and field of marigolds; those who genuinely want you to succeed and be happy. If we surround ourselves with those who uplift, energize, and inspire, it will help us harness the positive energy to uplift, energize, and inspire our students.
Along with warmer temperatures, spring also brings mandatory state testing. Testing is not the reason any of us decided to go into teaching, yet here we are smack dab in the middle of covering bulletin boards, stocking up on number 2 pencils, and reshuffling lunch and special schedules to accommodate. As public school teachers, it is so easy for us to become consumed with worry in this season; Will my students do well on these tests? Will it look like I couldn’t reach all of my students in these last 6 months? Will I help or harm my school’s rating that will be publicly published? These tests are simply one measure of how our students are growing. Keep perspective knowing that there are about 748 other ways we can show the student growth.
What child began this school year with anxiety and can now walk into the classroom ready to learn?
Which student told you in October that he’ll, “never read unless my teacher tells me to” and you introduced him to a series he can’t put down?
And that parent that questioned your “crazy, unstructured classroom with yoga balls, standing desks, and pillows” now saying thank you?
Big hugs all around.
This time of year is not only the beginning of testing season, but it also sprinkles in parent conferences, report cards, maybe a few snow day make ups, evening spring performances, Reading Olympics, and begin planning for NEXT YEAR while simultaneously sprinting to the finish line of the one we are in. Our minds and bodies simply do not stop. So when we have even the tiniest moment to pause and eat, we should fuel our bodies well. Take the 5 minutes to pack a good lunch that will feel nourishing and satisfying. Having a good lunch to look forward to allows us to feel a bit recharged for the rest of the day – which I have yet to experience with a cafeteria tray of chicken nuggets and tater tots 😊
Own Your Morale
It’s easy to react to much of what is swirling around us this time of year. I first heard the term “Own Your Morale” in Jimmy Casas’ (@casas_jimmy), Culturize, and find it to be such an empowering phrase that it’s becoming my mantra. We get to choose our attitude every day. This attitude sets the tone for how we interact and collaborate with children, colleagues, parents, and administrators. Over time, hundreds and thousands of tiny interactions ultimately become morale. So let’s own ours. Let’s try to respond rather than react. Let’s make the effort to think of the student or teammate that needs up be uplifted and lift them up! Like Glennon Doyle (@GlennonDoyle) says, “Let’s use up all of our grace, patience, humor, love, kindness, perspective, and optimism today. All of it. We’ll get a whole new batch tomorrow.”
Prioritize time for YOU
Ever hear the quote, “Balance is not found, it’s created”?
How great is that?! It’s created!
Many may believe, “After [insert life moment] things will feel less stressful” or “Once [insert school obligation] is complete, I will have more time to relax”. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t work that way. We have to do the work in order to create our own balance, and to do that, we have to conscientiously prioritize our own well-being. When we feel our best, we can be the best for our families both at school and at home. How can you feel your best? Some need to begin the day with exercise or end the day quietly reading or meditating. Others are energized by calling a friend on the ride home from school to connect. I know a lot of colleagues who start their day quietly with a cup of coffee before anybody else in the family awakes. What is one thing you could you do to practice self-care? Start there and see if it makes a positive impact in your daily life. Self-care is not selfish – it’s giving the world the best version of yourself!
Fellow teachers, this time of year is bananas. We need to hold on close to what helps us feel balanced, happy, and focused. We have the privilege and opportunity to do some of the world’s most important work with the students in front of us. Like Casas says, “We are blessed every day with the opportunity to help change the course of someone’s life by our words, our actions, and our belief in their abilities.”
Colleagues, we don’t have to go to work each day.
We get to go to work each day and show up for kids.
Lunch, good people, a little time to ourselves – those are just a few of the things we can hold close this time of year. Interested in what to let go of? Stay tuned because that’s the next post and it’s coming soon!