Hey Educators! I see you. I feel you. It’s that precious time of year fueled with contradiction – long summer days and a newfound sense of wellness colliding with growing awareness that September is lurking right around the corner. Lingering summer days will be replaced by early morning alarm clocks and growing to-do lists. Sunglasses and lemonade will take a back seat to fall sweaters and hot coffee. Depending on your role as support staff, teacher, principal or district leader, your start date is merely days or weeks away.
As we hang onto our final days of sunshine and soak in summer vibes, we promise ourselves this will be the year that we maintain a sense of harmony, prioritizing wellbeing throughout the year. Afterall, we all know you can’t drink from an empty cup. To take care of our students, we need to take care of ourselves first. This will be the year we figure out how to achieve that idealistic concept of balance – or so I tell myself each year around this time.
Don’t get me wrong – I love my job and can’t imagine a career outside of education. Every educator I have ever met loves kids and entered the profession to make a difference. There are a million tiny moments that fuel our souls. For those of you outside of education you may be rolling your eyes thinking you wished you had the whole summer off. Let me assure you, education is not for the faint of heart. We go full steam. We are outnumbered. We show up day in and day out and not only teach, we do everything we can to see each child, find their strengths and support their social, emotional development. We tie shoelaces, clean up spills, wipe tears, share our lunch, resolve conflicts, coach teams, plan fieldtrips and stay long after the bell has rung to strategize, assess, regroup, and plan for the next day. We do so because we see the spark in every child. We see learning come to life when a child begins to read, understands a concept, makes new friends, or discovers their passion. There is no greater joy than helping others discover who they are and who they can be. Our work shapes the future. However, there is no slow gear. By June, we slide into home plate depleted, drained and ready for hibernation. Despite the pure exhaustion, we know we will wipe off the dust and eagerly do it again. Our work is heartfelt.
The first few weeks of summer are spend winding down; sleeping in, relaxing, and settling into a slower pace. The middle weeks are a seductive state of rejuvenation where creativity returns and new ideas flow. In the final weeks we reflect, we take inventory of what matters most, and we vow to do things differently. As I meet friends for coffee, the first thing they share is what they plan to hang onto: family time, eating healthy, leaving work by 5 PM, putting the phone down or finding time for activities that bring them joy. I am no different. I’m a bit of an extremist when it comes to goal setting. The time to reflect, journal and reimagine has me writing more goals in August than New Year’s Eve. We are educators, and this is the start of our calendar year. Resolutions are plentiful.
I dream of a year where I wake up early and workout before school. I imagine myself preparing meals on Sundays so that lunch prep is quick and easy during the week. I dare to imagine pausing and eating my lunch before the dismissal bell. I strategize how to schedule my time so that I can leave work at a reasonable hour.
Ok – I’ll be honest – it’s more than that – in my Zen state sitting here by a lake I envision myself converting to a primarily plant-based diet, training for 10K runs, incorporating daily mindfulness, practicing yoga, leading with purpose, blogging, writing, completing my doctorate degree, volunteering for causes dear to my heart and having time for friends and family. A sarcastic voice inside my head chuckles and chirps “By the third week of September you’ll probably be staying up too late, skipping morning workouts, lining Tim Horton’s cups along your desk, writing mile long to do lists and texting your family apologizing for working into the dinner hour.” Ugh -that voice of reality.
And yet, mid-August as I sit here in peace at my favourite place, with the sun shining and the lake water lapping against the shore, I wonder if it’s possible. I wonder what real leadership looks like. I wonder if setting firmer boundaries and creating healthier habits would give others permission to do the same. I wonder what our students would learn if all educators prioritized self-care.
While resolutions are known to fade, they are more likely to be achieved when written down. Here’s to summer dreaming, days of reflecting, and growing hope. I see you educators. Let the gratitude of summer remind you what matters most and as the whirlwind of a new year approaches, and your calendar begins to fill, listen to that inner whisper, and remember it’s ok to take time for YOU.
See you soon.
Thank-you Kristi! You really reached me. I connect so well with what you write.