Upon returning from my vacation, I started to feel the anxiety building. I began to worry that a frantic storm of long hours of “catch-up” work were ahead. I started to fear that I had just experienced the “calm before the storm” by taking a vacation right before prep-work (orientations, meetings, etc) for the new school year was to officially begin (quickly followed by the first day of school!).
And then I stopped worrying. I started to think instead, about what I had learned while away and disconnected from technology and my work. I remembered the days of patiently watching waves, simply enjoying the sound of them cascading onto the beach. I thought of how lucky I felt to experience the care and compassion of family members who I rarely see. Then, I reflected on the power of patience and compassion, with and for ourselves and our fellow educators (and students). I realized that just because I had created a forced-calm by walking away from my devices and connecting with family and friends for a week, that did not mean that the calm had to immediately disappear. I could actually ease into things and be compassionate with myself by allowing time to readjust to a non-vacation schedule, time to get “back in the groove” of digital connectivity, and more time to reflect on what I had learned while away (and what I want for the upcoming school year).
I was surprised by how freeing this mindfulness of the need for compassion, patience, and multiple forms of connectivity (e.g., digital, personal, familial) felt. Which made me begin to think more about the applications of these traits and ideas for the classroom and the field of education. Have we placed enough emphasis on these “basic traits” when working with our students and colleagues? I know that to some, “compassion” and “patience” may feel like character traits that don’t have to be addressed after the early years but in our increasingly connected world, I wonder if we should highlight them more, regardless of age.
I think it could be beneficial for educators to remind one another to be patient and compassionate with themselves, especially as pressure builds with the start of a new school year. This feels particularly timely given that it’s Connected Educator’s Month. In addition to focusing on ways we can connect globally for collaboration and learning, we should focus on ways we can use our networks to support one another in being mindful of how much pressure we are putting on ourselves to set up the perfect classroom, prepare the “right” lessons, and create the ideal classroom community. I would love to see educators brainstorming ideas to help themselves and their students be patient and compassionate in their learning and communications, even if that means sometimes taking time to disconnect so they can reflect and relax.
How are you feeling about the start of the new school year? Have you connected with a supportive network of educators who can remind you to be patient and compassionate? Any tips you can share?