Here’s a blog post that I started writing a month ago, and never got around to finishing. It’s very interesting to me how my perspective has shifted in that time. Here is what I wrote a month ago:
A couple of weeks ago, I read this fantastic blog post by Matthew Arend: 36 Days & Counting. In his post, Matthew speaks about the importance of not counting down the days until summer break; not letting go of doing our best simply because summer is just around the corner. Although his blog post really resonated with me, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and wasn’t sure why. Something just wasn’t sitting well with me. This morning, while driving to work, it hit me. His post made me feel guilty. It made me feel guilty because, truth be told, although I am not directly counting down the days until summer break, I am most definitely looking forward to the much needed break. Whatever you do, please don’t quit reading here… let me explain first, before you think I’m a horrible teacher.
I, as most teachers, give my all day in and day out. I don’t stop trying simply because it’s almost winter break, or spring break, or the end of the school year. I spend a lot of time planning and making sure that my students get the best from their time with me. The time that I do have with my students is so precious and every minute counts. I truly feel this way… however, I don’t think that looking forward to a break, or counting down the days makes me any less of a good teacher, and I don’t think I should be shamed for it. I would maybe even argue that looking forward to these breaks (and most definitely having these breaks) is what makes me a good teacher. Here’s my perspective: I work so hard that I need those breaks in order to do my best. By the time summer rolls around, I need that time off with my family to recharge and in order to continue to be the good teacher that I am. The same applies for winter break and spring break, just on a smaller scale. Looking forward to these breaks sometimes gives me the strength that I need to finish strong. Without these breaks, I’m sure that I wouldn’t last more than two years in this profession.
Here is what I am adding today, with further reflection:
This year, one of my personal goals is letting go of the guilt that I am constantly feeling. I’ve written about this in my post Balance vs. Meaning and although I know that Matthew’s post most certainly wasn’t written with the intention of making me feel guilty, I couldn’t help but feel this way. Maybe it was the nature of the bluntness of his post (more specifically, this quote: “For those of you who are counting them down…shame on you.”), or maybe it’s because I read it at a high stress time in my life so it stung a little bit more. A month ago, things were beyond hectic for me: we were selling our house, had moved into my parents house for showings (because how could we possibly keep the house clean with four boys), I was presenting at a PAC meeting, I was giving a session on coding, the spring concert/gallery walk was happening, I was preparing to leave my students for four days to head to Connect, an out of town conference, upon my return, I would only be back with my students for three days before leaving again for another four, two of which were for PD and two were personal days, I was preparing to launch a big community project, and that’s only the major stuff that was going on. Phew, I’m exhausted just reading that! Needless to say, when I read that post by Matthew, I was in desperate need of a break in order to be the best teacher I could be. I was in countdown mode (or survival mode) and probably wasn’t my best self. What’s interesting is that once my big stresses were gone, I was back, but back as an even better version of myself. Going to Connect recharged me beyond belief, which you can read about in my co-written post with Nycol Didcote. My house sold, my presentations were great, and the whole community really appreciated our concert and hard work to prepare for the gallery walk. My two PD days in the form of a retreat were so invigorating (read about it here) and the cherry on top at the end was spending the weekend plus two more days with my family on a mini vacation. I’ve been back with my students for a full week now, and although we’ve had a few bumps in the road because the routine was a bit upside down in class from my many absences, we are getting back on track and doing amazing things together; and that’s what it’s all about!
Am I still looking forward to summer? You bet. Am I counting down the days? Nope! Are my students getting rich, authentic learning experiences right up until the end of June? Most certainly! What an amazing post for me, helping me to understand what I was feeling, why I was feeling the way I was, and what it means. Love. Learn. Live. Grow.
ps – right now I am feeling guilty because there are three baskets of laundry that aren’t getting folded because I chose to blog tonight instead… but, it’s my birthday and I’ll blog if I want to! 🙂