Time to catch one’s breath

Does the school year ever feel like a marathon? Exhilarating, rewarding, invigorating and yes, sometimes a little daunting?

When the race begins in September, we have stretched, trained and adequately rested. We are full of energy and ready to take on the year. We pace ourselves, monitor and adjust our speed with the ups and downs of what lies ahead: the steep climb of report cards and the downhill momentum that follows. Sometimes we coast, enjoying the scenery along the way. Sometimes all we can do is yearn for a swig of water at the next rest stop. There are also moments when we question if we will even make it to the finish line intact. And yet, somehow we do.

Rest assured, we are on the final leg of our journey with the finish line in sight. Feelings of accomplishment, anticipated rest and an opportunity to catch one’s breath are within reach.

As we move into the summer months, think about the impact you have had on your students throughout this journey. What are you proud of? Whose life did you make a difference in this year? Who is better off for having known you?

After you’ve given those questions some thought, consider this: What are you most looking forward to this summer?

My own thoughts turn to a long morning stroll, curling up with a good book, a mid-afternoon nap… time with family without the pressures of school weighing on the mind… time to recover, refresh and rejuvenate… time to do all those things neglected during the marathon itself… time to simply sit in the warmth of the sun.

Frank Lebow describes a marathon in this way: “The marathon is a charismatic event. It has everything. It has drama. It has competition. It has camaraderie. It has heroism.” Come now, does that not describe a school year?

Our Supporting Cast

As educators, we are fortunate to have a supporting cast. The work of our educational assistants is often behind the scenes and sometimes goes unnoticed to the unobservant eye. And yet, for any of us that have had the privilege of an educational assistant working within our classrooms – supporting the students with the greatest needs – we know how vital their work is to the effectiveness of each day.

Many of these individuals have chosen to work with special needs children as their career. It is not glamorous, high profile or well-paid and yet it is so important to the work we do as teachers.

Most of our support staff are leaving our school this year. Our students, their families and our staff will be devastated by the changes. Since these individuals work with our students in such close proximity, they become a critical support to these students: academically, socially and emotionally. On Friday, I made contact with many of the parents whose children are affected by the changes. Hearing the sighs and sometimes the tears on the other end of the phone is a testament to the impact our educational assistants have had on our students.

Our supporting cast is essential to the success of each school year. I value their dedication, stamina and passion for the work they do… for the love of children.


The Big Rocks

As part of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey instructs us to put first things first: to focus on the big rocks. I have always tried to do this even before I knew the language of the 7 Habits.

Lately though, I’ve been thrown a few reminders about what is important in life. What I have come to realize is that sometimes we have to choose whether or not something qualifies as a big rock. What I might have considered a big rock a few months ago suddenly seems pebble-like. I have also realized that some things don’t belong in the rock collection at all: boulder, pebble or grain of sand.

Life is short and unpredictable. Circumstances can change in a heartbeat. Live your priorities today.

Watch this amusing demonstration of the big rocks!

How lucky we are…

Several members of our family have spent considerable time in the hospital as of late. And though things have been difficult, through all of this, I have been reminded how lucky we are to be living in Canada. Imagine if every procedure, every medication and every hospital stay was to be paid from our own pockets. Our cumulative savings would not come close to covering the growing cost.

I can only imagine the added strain for individuals living in countries where procedures are not available. Or, perhaps just as difficult, where the procedures are available but where families are responsible for footing the bill. During a time of illness, the added financial burden could only stifle the healing process.

So although we face trials and challenges, we are fortunate that our health care system supports the care of our loved ones and that our focus can remain on what is most important: family and healing!