As I’m writing these words, we are soon wrapping up summer. Summer is that sweet time of the year where educators have a chance to press pause and just be. I was ready to press pause for myself after what I would consider a challenging year. For me the 2018-2019 school year, was one where I had moments of wonder and learning with my students, where I got celebrate with my team of teachers all the wonderful things we’ve learned and discovered together. But there were also tears. Many tears. And many days of absences.
Unexpectedly, I took an FMLA leave from my job to take care of my dad in November and December. Best decision I have ever made even though it’s never easy to press the pause bottom in our line of work.
In March 2019, my dad passed away.
My new reality left me feeling grateful for the opportunity I had to say goodbye to him. Grateful for the FMLA time I was able to take. Grateful for the team of teachers and administrators that had my back. Grateful for the hugs and smiles from my students whose unconditional love reminds me that I’m going to be alright.
As I resumed my work after dad’s funeral, I tried to give myself as much grace as possible. I often put high expectations for myself. But as grief and I were getting to know each other and learning to share a space with one another, I have learned (so far) that…
There’s no point in fighting grief. It’s going to show unannounced and uninvited. Get to know each other. Who knows? You might even become friendly with each other.
On the good and strong moments, show up with all your heart and do the work. All can change in the next breath.
Be honest with people around you. Honesty is always the best policy. Ask for help when needed. People are waiting for you to reach out.
I’m sure grief will continue to teach me lessons and I’ll continue to pay attention. I want to learn from this process.
I was, however, not the only person in our district who was going through a challenging year. Several of my colleagues had many rough moments to overcome. When life gets difficult, it’s important to stand on solid ground and to hold onto our beliefs so that we can continue to show up for our children as we learn to show up for ourselves. As I reflected back and look forward, I want to share my life manifesto. And because the work I get to do is my life, I see this manifesto as one that dances between my personal life and my work life.
Here it goes. Here’s to More & Less of in the 2019-2020 academic year.
Less quick meetings and more thoughtful conversations. I want to give more time to process our thoughts, sit with our questions, wrestle with our curiosity.
Less ideas and more why. Why are we doing this? Why does it matter? Why do we choose to react this way?
Less complaining for the sake of venting and more real conversations about how we feel and what we need help with.
Less busy work in the form of worksheets and more leaning in to listen. Just listen.
Less negative language and more connecting with one another as human beings.
And last but not least…Less checking things off from endless list and more ice-cream dates with myself and/or friends.
Last school year taught me how fragile life truly is. It reminded me of what really matters in life. Oprah talks frequently about the plaque that is at the door of her office. It reads, “ Please be responsible for the energy that you bring into this room.” If we were all reminded more often that we all carry a certain energy with us, we would be more mindful of the way we talk, the ways we express ourselves and the ways we behave with one another. So this year, I’m promising myself to come back to this manifesto often so I don’t loose myself in the midst of life.
What are you doing for yourself this year? What would you like more of and less of in your teaching life? What would you do when life gets noise and loud?
I hope you carve out some time setting some intentions for this year. I hope you find people that support you along the way and join you in being more mindful of our presence. I hope the learners in your classroom lead you in what they need more of and less of as they walk this learning journey with you.