I am not going to sugar coat it in any way. February is hard. As a wise friend always said, “Don’t make any career choices in February.”
This year has proven to be no different. In my district, there are so many uncertainties. We have looming layoffs, a new superintendent, and a state accreditation visit. Also, we changed our teacher leadership system which means a large percentage of people including me has to reapply for a job. Needless to say, my stress level is high, and I am very anxious.
With this in my mind, I have taken charge of my own self-care. This does not mean that I am indulging in massages and pedicures. Instead, I have focused on the following.
- Exercise: I have found the more I sweat, the less stressed I have become. There is nothing like doing 100 burpees to still a quiet mind.
- Food: I have jumped in with gusto with meal planning. I have enjoyed adding new recipes to my list and knowing that I do not have to think about what’s for dinner on my way home.
- Vacation Planning: I am beyond excited to think about both Spring Break and a summer trip to visit friends.
- Prayer: I have been spending more time in prayer this month. I have also taken my one word, Trust and used it help me focus my prayer.
- Sleep: I have mentally set a bedtime and worked hard to maintain it.
- Books: I have been focusing on books that excite me. Currently, I am reading Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and no I have not seen the NetFlix series.
I do these things so I can be the best wife, parent, friend, and colleague during this month. I know I don’t have the answers for all of the changes occurring, but I can respond with empathy and compassion because I have taken care of myself.
I am over winter. The last two weeks have brought 5 days of no school, 1 2-hour early out, and 1 late start. As a mom, I am tired and looking forward to getting back to a routine. As a teacher, I also want us to get back to a routine.
Let’s be honest 2 weeks like this try us. For some families who are in poverty, this could be extremely challenging. Suddenly, you need to find money for the following: 10 more meals per kid, an increased utility bill just to keep the house at 60, and possibly child care for the days missed. Also, add to that list finding clothes to keep you and your children warm. Please imagine the stress and guilt this must put on a parent. Now imagine, being a child in this house where the parents are highly stressed. It’s not easy for them either.
As I think about these challenges, I realize as educators we each need to return to school with a smile on our face and welcome everyone back. We need to give each other grace as we try to get back to a routine. When a student forgets a routine, kindly remind them. Stand at your door and say hello to every single student. Create opportunities for students to talk.
We can’t control Mother Nature, but we can choose how we respond to each other.
A little background before I jump into the meat of this post. I was voxering with my friend and thought partner, Sean Gaillard about books and my challenge of blogging currently. He suggested that I blog about what I am reading. I loved it. So here we go…
One of my latest reads was Imperfect Courage by Jessica Honegger. As I began reading this book, I sent this to one of my friends because we were just talking about this. Needless to say, this book spoke to me as I read.
My Favorite Quotes:
- It’s tempting to bubble-wrap our lives. Layer upon layer of protection means we stay unbroken, right through the end….And yet what does this approach yield for us? A life of boredom, a lack of impact, spiritual death.
- Respond to that prompting today. Don’t let another twenty-four hours pass in which you push off what you know you must do.
- We can’t grow without vulnerability, and we can’t be vulnerable alone.
- Judgment also shows up as a form of self-protection.
- One sure way to know that a culture has shifted toward collaboration is this: when a group of people come together to truly share the load, division doesn’t divide; instead, it unifies.
How it will impact my work:
- It’s time for me to remove my bubble wrap and go forward. My bubble wrap at work can be seen in my busyness. The air of busyness can push people away and keep isolated.
- I will model vulnerability for others around me. I will trust that being uncomfortable is part of the process.
- I will listen to my inner voice when it begins to judge and ask myself what I trying to protect myself from.
- I will practice trusting the promptings and do it then and not later. (Big Hint for my blogging)
This book has the power to change me if remove my bubble wrap and stay consistent.
So, I have been doing this one word thing for several years now. It’s a great way to focus my year. I realized that I became better because I used that word to focus my efforts. I committed to exercising and writing. I started to focus on what really matters. Unfortunately, last year my word led to confusion. Last year, I instead of being humble; invited doubt into my habits.
As I reflected on this problem, I thought of some models of humility. Mary, Jesus’ mother, was humble, but she did not seem to doubt her decision to say yes. St. Mother Teresa did not question her choices. What I noticed with both of them, they had faith and trust in God. So this year, I am selecting Trust as my one word for 2018.
I need trust to in myself, in others, and most importantly in God. Brene Brown suggests that in addition to defining what does trust looks like in action we also need to identify when we are not living into our value.
I am living out trust when:
- I will choose connection over isolation.
- I will add value to others and myself.
- I will treat myself as a trusted friend.
I am not living out trust:
- I don’t assume best intentions.
- I am silent when I need to speak out.
- I question and doubt myself.
This will not be an easy task, but I know if I spend the time in small moments to build trust, I will create a better world.
As you may have noticed dear readers, I have not been blogging with the consistency that I used to have. I can easily blame it on my tablet habit. One particular game has a feature that after I win the first game, I get a boost for the following game. When I win again, I get two boosts. Soon after winning several games in a row, it becomes very easy to beat the next level. After a while, I forget about all of the helps I have and begin to expect that this level of support is normal. When I finally lose a game, I realize how wrong I was.
This often happens in our schools. If you were similar to me when you entered school for the first time you had many “boosts” to help you succeed in school. I was a white middle-class girl with educator parents. My world prepared me for how school works. My school was designed for students like me.
Luis Cruz described this situation in this way. We have some students who come to school already on third base while some students have not even made it to the baseball field or know that we are playing baseball. The reality is that all of our students need to end up at home base.
Some questions come to mind as I think about our schools. Who are schools designed for? Do we treat the student who is on third base as if they hit a triple or do we acknowledge their privilege that got them there?
Personally, I believe we should work together as a team of educators to help every student get to home base. This will require us to set aside our previous experiences as students. It is hard work, but it is right and just work of schools.
In my perfect world, teachers would not have to hustle to live a comfortable life. Of course, we do not live in that world. I know teachers who have a wide variety of jobs to help put food on the table. This article about teachers using Instagram and Teachers Pay Teachers as a side hustle made its way around the Twitterverse. I do need to make a confession, I do not have an Instagram account so I may have missed some nuances of the article. I was fascinated by the discussion going around, but I was left with some questions.
- Where is the diversity? These teachers highlighted are all very similar. Same time in their career and are all white women. The materials seem very similar in terms of color choices and font styles. They all seem to remind me of the same style that fills my Target.
- Where is the equity? (Is this opportunity really available to all teachers in all schools?) As I read this, I was also reading Troublemakers in which the author mentioned the conditions in Detroit Public Schools which involved mice, mold and other not Instagram-worthy issues. These teachers do not have access. I also wonder if any of these or other Instagram stars teach in an urban school district.
- Where is the research on the impact? Do these resources and styling make students learn more? Will students be more authentically engaged in learning with these resources or are these just beautiful worksheets?
- Why is there a need for teacher influencers?
I don’t have any answers just more questions. I am learning to be okay with not having the answers.
This past month I ran 30 miles. This did not happen accidentally. It happened because I set a goal.
It sounds simple. Set a goal and then achieve the goal. I don’t know about you Dear Readers, but for me, it isn’t usually that easy. So why this time as opposed to all of the other times I set a goal. Here’s why I think it worked this time.
- I had a reward planned if I accomplished my goal. This weekend I am getting a pedicure.
- I communicated my goal with my support system. They knew this goal meant was important to me and they asked how I was doing at accomplishing my goal.
- I tracked my progress toward my goal.
We often tell teachers, students and other educators to set goals, but rarely do we talk about why some people reach their goals and others quit. How can I take what I learned and apply it to my work with instructional coaches?
- I can ask the coaches to write smaller short-term goals. Sometimes a year-end goal is big to think about. Small changes, done consistently, equal significant results.
- I need to provide follow-up conversations and check-in around the goal they set. My friend Karen seemed to instinctively know when my willpower was fading and asked about how I was coming.
- I can help them create goals that are measurable. A coach will not feel like they are making progress if the goal is to improve climate unless they know how to measure it.
I have my action steps for the upcoming month as I help teacher leaders set goals.
Since sharing my goals worked so well last month. I thought I would share them with you, my dear readers. I am committing to 12 workouts and 4 blog posts in September. Don’t be afraid to ask me how I am doing.