Depending on where you’re teaching, you probably have started at some capacity at this point. And for that I commend each and every one of you! As Kastor said with the opening quote, the moments that challenge us the most can define us. And there are only a few professions who have been challenged more than teachers throughout the past three school years.
Many of us (myself included!) thought that this year was going to be a little calmer, a little less stressful, a little more “normal,” but that doesn’t seem to be the case. If anything, we are all (parents, community, staff, students) are all a little more heightened, a little more on edge.
So when we are challenged with these situations that are so clearly beyond our control, what can we do? We can certainly spend time commiserating over that which is beyond our jurisdiction, or we can look around and do what we can, with what we can, how we can.
We can ask ourselves, “How do I want to be defined?” and then go from there, reverse engineering the whole process.
I recently had to ask myself this same question as I started the school year almost 9 months pregnant in the midst of a pandemic in a school that did not require masking, proof of vaccination, social distancing, etc.
As I drove to a scheduled doctor appointment after the first day of school, I really questioned how I wanted to be defined. Sure, I could keep my fingers crossed, put my mask on and hope for the best. But how would that feel throughout almost a month of school? Was it more important to be seen as “strong” for making it to my due date OR was it more important to take care of my health and wellbeing (and consequently my baby’s too)?
Years ago I would have just done it, sucked it up and been generally miserable as I showed up every day fearful and stressed out…but still being the “strong” teacher sacrificing myself for the good of my students.
But what I realized is that it might be better for my students if I wasn’t the one in front of them throughout these first few weeks of school. So I came to the answer that I want to be defined as someone who is leaving my ego at the door. I want to be defined as someone who sees the bigger picture and makes choices that benefit both my students and my children instead of doing something that might make my ego feel better. Therefore I stepped away from the classroom this year after only four days this school year.
I know this was a really specific story, but If you’re looking for some assistance in bringing awareness and engaging in those moments in a way that serves you, I wanted to pass on this resource.
I’ve kept a copy of this on my cabinet for the past four years so that I have a consistent reminder of what I can do in the heat of a challenging moment that could truly define me (or I’m just about to flip my lid and I don’t want to have to apologize for it later!)
Please feel free to download, print or pass it on. This resource gives you 5 mindful moments for teachers and 5 for students that you can pull out whenever there is some elevated tension or you just need a quick breather.
We don’t have control of so many things in our personal and professional lives, and sometimes that can feel upsetting. But I challenge you to see it as empowering. There is so much we don’t need to give our energy to, and there is so much happening right in front of us that is well within our sphere of influence.
Rise to the challenge of the moment by already knowing how you want to be defined and keep these handy tools right by your side for some backup in case you need it.
I wish you a wonderful start to the school year and for embracing those moments that you can control.
If you’re looking for more a way to walk through the unknown of this school year, please check out The Path of the Mindful Teacher. It’s packed with relevant and implementable ideas that are sure to support you n this year’s teacher journey.