You may not believe me, but as I sat down to write this post, I wondered what graphic I’d put to accompany it. Well…Holy Spirit spoke as soon as I opened my computer. Bored of browsing FaceBook yesterday, I’d left the page up and just put the screen down. This morning, Cici B’s post from the “Wake up to your mind” page, was the first thing I saw.
And it’s what I want to say to you, before taking a mini Sabbatical for the month of August (don’t miss me too much!).
In chatting with Lee Ann yesterday, I explained my reasons for the break from writing:
I have some reflection and research to do that needs my full attention……I feel like Holy Spirit is calling me to ready myself for the year ahead…..I need to heed those messages….Transitions are occurring and while we aren’t clear to what…we have to prepare ourselves for what will be.
Ever the supportive friend/mentor, Lee Ann encouraged me to do what I needed to do with complete understanding. Being a reflective practitioner herself, she knows where I’m coming from and sees the value of contemplation and proactive planning.
I first have to grieve. For all the things about school and teaching that I took for granted: walking freely amongst my students, not thinking too much about how close I stood, when I leaned over to explain/ correct a mistake. Chatting and ribbing my colleagues in the staff lounge, giving out free hugs after a rough class, the occasional light slap when they drank the last cup of coffee, after-work recharge ‘limes’ without masks…. The list is endless.
I then have to make peace with the New Normal. I fought it, ripping off my mask immediately when I got into the car. I hated that people couldn’t see me smile when I thank them. But maybe, now it’s time to do/ say more. “Be blessed, be safe.” I said this to a lady who made me coffee and her whole tone changed as she said “thank you!” I can still share human spirit with others, probably just in different ways.
I have to believe we’ll figure it out and be better as a people. The human race is being told to change. We know by now that we haven’t been getting it right. As educators, we are particularly called to help our world learn how to do that. If you believe that your profession is a vocation (which it is), then we not only need to deliver our subject matter differently, we need to teach our students to live differently. They need to do better than us with this Earth, and as their guides on the side, we need to model that. Compassion, care and collaboration need to inform every lesson we deliver, whether it’s about French or Life. Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) needs to come to the front as we help our children transition safely through change. We don’t have all the answers, but we have to be willing to figure it out together. We have to hold their hands through this…even if that’s figurative (lol).
A month before school, let’s take some time to do the research and make adjustments. Blended learning, online learning, we can’t fight this anymore. Our classrooms aren’t going to look the way we’ve been accustomed to and that’s a reality that we, as educators, first have to prepare ourselves for. Take the time to do this, before you have to do it for your babies (whether these are you own children or your students).
Read articles online, sign up for the webinars and immerse yourself in your field. Do not cloister yourself in a cupboard, thinking that this will blow over. Stop waiting for it to go away and adapt. As best as you can. I know it’s hard. I’m struggling to move away from saying: “I got this” to “I really don’t know, but we’ll figure it out.” Notice how the “I’ changed to ‘We’. Solutions and a better world lie in collaboration but as educators, we already knew that with the 4C’s….right?
Prepare yourself, mentally…physically…spiritually. As I said before, your role of Crisis Manager is not going to end in September. You may have to make calls and decisions that are difficult: when to send a child home, when to give an assignment/ assessment….
Don’t think about it before you’ve developed a Self-Care program: What are you going to eat? When are you going to take time for yourself? How can I fit in that exercise or at least get in 10,000 steps (just kidding)…but no, stay active. Looking after yourself was important before. Now, it’s indispensable for what lies ahead. Do not leave it to be figured out, when you have time. Come on you guys, be real! Educators never have time and Netflix is the devil (not really…but yes).
So as I proceed to my own period of Contemplation and Proactive Planning, I encourage you to do what you need to do to get ready. It’s falling apart as we know it, but as CiCi says it, have the faith that we will “figure out a way to put it back together again & even better than it originally was.” “Never give up. We all have the power in us to rise… so rise.”
I leave you with the lyrics of a song that I’m listening to as I write this. It’s a song called “The Middle” by Audrey Assad (shock! Not Kes?)…
It just takes some time, You’re in the middle of the ride, Everything will be just fine.
Believe it, be blessed and be safe.