Summer Is HERE!
(for most of us anyways)
While it’s a great time to relax, sleep in, walk around in your pajamas all day, and go full slob… it is an opportunity for two things which we should not take lightly and we should appreciate.
Opportunity To Recharge
Without question; teachers need the summer off. Above our contractual obligations, we put in an enormous amount of emotional labor into our daily practice of teaching. From being able to keep a straight face when something funny yet horrible has happened in the classroom (funny burps and passing gas anyone?) to the hard conversations we have to sometimes have with our fellow teachers AND students. Without question we need to recharge ourselves because we give so much of ourselves for those 9 months. It is necessary.
Opportunity To Challenge Ourselves
When you are a teacher, you are also a disruptor. A disruptor of the greatest kind because you are causing dissonance. You are responsible for purposefully causing a specific mental conflict in the minds of your students! This is what you do! You create a conflict that causes uncertainty, confusion, frustration, and utterly madness!
When you teach someone 1+1 = 2 or a new skill, you are purposefully disrupting their knowledge of the world around them. And while your intentions might be good and well meaning, it doesn’t stop them from being a disruption.
It’s very similar to building a muscle.
Building a muscle does require activity!
When you do a push up or lift a weight, that in itself causes you to T-E-A-R the muscle you just worked out. It’s the soreness that you feel after any intense workout. But that T-E-A-R in the muscle isn’t just for the sake of pain…
It’s an opportunity.
Because of this now existing tear… you can now B-U-I-L-D muscle. That pain and that tear created an opportunity that didn’t exist. It is NOW the opportunity to create and to build what did not exist before.
Its when you put down the weights, when you stop running, or when you are done with you routine… that is when you are actually building muscle!
The recovery phase is when your body begins to focus on rebuilding what is torn… on filling in this newly created opportunity with new growth and new muscle.
This is why proper nutrition and rest is so important when starting a fitness program.
Without the proper nutrition and rest, all of the work and effort put into a workout will be for nothing because you are not maximizing the opportunity you created in the workout! Rest and eating right is essential to any fitness program. Its where true growth can occur.
So what does this mean for us teachers enjoying our time off?
It means we need to challenge ourselves.
Teaching is an exciting and forgiving profession (for most) because if you do with your heart in the right place, you not only get to come out of it stronger and more experienced… but you also become a better person because of it. But this can only happen if you challenge yourself!
It means that while we tear our collective emotional and psychological muscles for the sake of our kids… We also need to do this for ourselves!
So while you spend your summer in recovery mode getting your much needed break, make sure to do something for yourself, that challenges you, pushes you, creates some healthy dissonance, and helps you see the world in a new light.
Start a hobby that you might have put off, work in your garden, learn to paint furniture, learn beekeeping (these are all things I like to do :), or perhaps expand your circle of relationships and start to build new ones! Whatever you decide to, do something that challenges YOU!
If we want our kids, our students, to overcome the dissonance that we create for them in the classroom, then it is important that WE, the teachers, model this behavior for them. That our thoughts, language, and actions in the classroom are infused with this knowledge, so that we can respond appropriately when they struggle or when they face a difficult challenge.
It is easy for those of us in the classroom to forget that we are a disruptive force in the classroom. We are directly involved in changing the brain chemistry of our students. We purposefully disrupt their perception of the world. Even if they are the beneficiaries of this disruption, it is a disruption none the less.
And when we help our students make sense of the world, we call it learning.
And when we hold their hand through this disruption, we call it kindness.
And when we hold their hand through this disruption, drawing from our own challenging experiences to use in helping our students… we call this teaching.
Plan in your seat
Teach on your feet
And with every interaction that you have with your students.
Every talk, lesson, activity, challenge…
make sure you seal it…
… with your smile