For my first major post of the new year I’ve decided to tackle a new reflection. If you’ve been reading the blog you have probably noticed that I have been writing a reflection for each #mschat question from the past three #mschats before the holiday break. I intend to continue the reflections but since the first #mschat of 2015 has not started yet, and I might not be able to make it Thursday night for the first chat of the year, I’ve decided to dive into the biggest chat on Twitter for educators.
#edchat. The holy grail of educational chats.
At this point in the school year most teachers are starting to feel (if not already knee deep in) the pain of burnout. The holidays are a much needed break from the pressures of education but the reality is that most of us dread that first week back. Do we have enough enthusiasm to bring to class? Will our students be ready for digging back into the concepts and topics we prepped them for before Christmas? The topic for the chat was a simple, perfect question.
#Edchat: After a great holiday vacation it’s back to work.What are specific things that you do to rejuvenate yourself during the school yr?
I have to say it was a great place to start. With so many teachers struggling to get back on point, I find it important to share our experiences through platforms such as #edchat so that we know we are: 1) not alone; and 2) capable of getting our mojo back quickly.
One thing that jumped out at me was how quickly the chat splintered into sub groups. It was a chore to keep up with more than one or two conversations so I tried my best to focus on what I thought the intent of the question meant to me. I was hoping to find specific examples of how teachers find a way to rejuvenate their passion for teaching after the holidays. I did notice that many participants descended down a darker path, talking about teacher burnout and disillusionment. While I know those topics are very much part of the conversation about the flip side of rejuvenation I thought those threads detracted from the intent to inspire and help each other get 2015 off on the right foot.
For me I came up with three things that were obvious when I think about how I stay rejuvenated on the job. This was not an all-inclusive list but they were the first things that came to mind in a 140 character limit.
#edchat a few obvious ways that I stay rejuvenated
1. I work with 12yr olds
2. I connect with my PLN on Twitter
3. I take breaks from it all
Working with middle school students keeps me young. They (really any student if you think about it…)have passion and curiosity that if properly encouraged and nurtured, can become a powerful force to inspire any teacher. Most importantly though I find that after working as an educator for over 12 years I finally realize it is important to sometimes not be a teacher.
I loved what #edchat participant Peter Cameron shared about his class. Getting kids to think deeply and make a one word resolution is a wonderful idea that I’m certainly going to steal going forward to next year. What a great photo!
“To rejuvenate Ss, we bring them skiing in Feb! They started yr making #oneword resolutions. Rejuvenating too”
Taking new risks as@nickschiner suggests is also a wonderful way to get re-inspired.
“Trying something new can be incredibly rejuvenating. Having to think about a new approach and problem solve can be inspiring. #edchat”
Since I started rereading the tweets from last night I’ve noticed that most of the conversations revolved around five topic areas that relate to the rejuvenation of a teacher’s spirit. They are (in no particular order)
Environment: Is your workspace OK? Do you have a classroom that helps you feel happy and inspired to come in each morning? Do you reflect on what ways your environment is harming your mental state? Some of the participants brought up the point of school culture and how that can affect a teacher’s ability to recharge one’s batteries.
Rituals: Do you have to get that coffee first thing in the morning like Teresa Lohse does?
“Little rituals like going to get a favorite kind of coffee also help with motivation.”
That’s not a bad thing. If there are little things that you do to help you prepare or get through each day, you should continue to make time in your schedule to do them.
“I take about ten minutes before each day to read for pleasure. I am slowly chipping away at one of my bucket list books.”
That could mean taking a walk everyday, resolving to reserve the afternoons for exercise and not grading, or making a point to play your guitar every evening. All of these little rituals will help you stay in the right frame of mind to approach each day with enthusiasm. Some participants in the chat mentioned the following rituals that help them stay the course:
I start every day having a cup of coffee with my hubs and sharing our plans for the day
Mindset: Are you choosing to start each day with a smile whether or not you feel like smiling?
Maybe something like a simple, consistent start to the day. Wake up w/ a smile #edchat
By now most of the connected teachers on Twitter have seen the research regarding the effects of smiling and happiness on work production and job satisfaction. Many times half of the battle is choosing to be present in the moment.
Hobbies: I play guitar. I love playing. It brings me joy. I love it so much that I often bring my guitar into class and play for my students. They will even choose songs for me to learn and we might all have a sing along (It’s a funny sight to see a class full of 6th graders trying to sing “Royals”…. and an even funnier sight seeing me trying to sing it.)
Self-Monitoring: Are you taking a step back and reflecting on where you are today? Have you checked in with some colleagues recently to see how they are doing? Purposeful Principals made a great point about this in their tweet:
Monitor your self talk- stop the negative like “I always” or “I never”. Replace with positive statements.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, maybe you have been taking yourself a little too seriously lately, or there is a big political issue at work that is weighing on your thoughts. Being conscious of what is happening to you is supremely important in rejuvenating your soul. You can’t fix it if you don’t know what’s wrong. When you are in the habit of reflecting on your craft you find it easier to identify where you need to focus, and more importantly, where you need to step away. As Urban Teacher said:
To become a top teacher you need to able to say to yourself; “Enough is enough!