Give and Take, Storms and Sunshine

When I think of the students who I connect with most, it is often those who struggle for some reason or another. Some face medical challenges, some have experienced significant loss, some come from difficult home situations, and some have even faced trauma in their young lives.

These kids often need an adult in their corner: someone reminding them they are valued. They  need to be taught specific strategies to help them face obstacles and cope with overwhelming emotion. They need an outlet to release their rage, fear, confusion and sadness. These kids need our time.

But what they give back is inspiration. These are the students that teach me about perseverance, determination and hope. They remind me that “There are some things you can only learn in a storm.” (Joel Osteen) And, it is after the storm that the sun seems to shine the brightest.

Take a hike!

I have the pleasure of meeting many teachers both within our district and in other areas of the country. My conversations with teachers remind me of the similar demands we face no matter where we happen to teach.

With a never-ending to-do list, it is easy to fall into the pattern of working six – or even seven – days a week. And yet, when we take a break from our work, we return refreshed and rejuvenated. We know this to be true but it can be difficult to practice.

Whether it be baking, playing cards with family, watching a game of hockey, a hike in the slowly-warming-weather, or even a weekend get-away, a break is vital to maintain a work-life balance.

In Teaching Well: How healthy, empowered teachers lead to thriving, successful classrooms, Lisa Bush says this: “Teachers working around the clock is neither good for our education system nor our students.” “If we are going to energize and inspire our students over the course of decades, we must make our mental and physical health a top priority.”

For me, this is still a work in progress, but I know it is worth the effort.

To learn, or not to learn – that is the question

A few weeks ago, an assistant principal shared this quotation with me: “If we create a culture where every teacher believes they need to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better, there is no limit to what we can achieve.” Dylan William

I work with many teachers in my role. I am energized and motivated by those with a desire to learn and improve. This desire does not imply a weak teacher; in fact, it is usually quite the opposite. Teachers who are in a constant state of learning and reflection are the teachers who are going to have the most impact with the students before them.

The very thing that makes our jobs exciting, also makes it challenging: no two students, two classes, two days, or two school years are ever the same. We must always be responsive to the students and the situations before us. Our learning can never end.

The good news? When teachers are excited about learning, kids are too!

Longing to Write

I love to write. So much so that I have carved writing days into my weekly schedule. Yet because of an especially busy time, I haven’t been able to take these days to write over the last few weeks.

Yesterday I attended an author’s event. Hearing the author read from his book and speak about the process, made me long for my dedicated writing time even more. That novel that I’ve got started hasn’t had my attention for a while… neither has my book for parents… not to mention the third teacher resource idea that I’ve got percolating.

It feels good to get back at it. The longer I go without writing, the harder it can sometimes be to re-engage.

What about for our students? Do we carve regular writing time into the school day? Do we make writing a given? A way of thinking? After all, the more we do it, the more natural it is.