We have to grant ourselves permission to stop at some point, this is education and we could work 24 hours a day for the rest of our lives and the work still wouldn’t be finished. The importance of slowing down and giving ourselves permission to search for balance in our lives is a crucial element of success in education.
Each day that we work with our students we should be at our very best, but the reality is that none of us can honestly say that we’re doing this. We come to school tired, sick, and overwhelmed by outside influences. This is normal, everyone does this and that’s okay (to a point…stay home if you’re contagious!). No one is going to have their best day every time they wake up and there’s a reason for that, we’re human. However, despite being human, we are still able to control a lot of the factors that determine how balanced we remain.
We can help ourselves stay as healthy as possible by tending to our diet and exercise, we can ensure that we get enough sleep, and we can maintain healthy stress levels through yoga, meditation, or another relaxing activity. Perhaps the most important way that we can help ourselves to stay fresh and in peak form is to grant ourselves the permission to stop. Perhaps in no other profession does the anxiety over “getting everything done” build as quickly as it does in education. After all, we’ve got these kids’ futures in our hands, if we don’t teach them everything they need they’ll never learn it…right?!?
Well, here’s a possible wake up call for you, if you’re burned out then your students aren’t going to learn much of anything from you! Very often as educators we get caught in a cycle of coming in early, staying late, and then taking work home. We want to try new strategies, give quality feedback, engage our students and increase student learning. Don’t get me wrong, we should be doing those things…BUT…we need to do it at a sustainable pace, one at which we can stay healthy, relaxed and present for our students. Find your limits and hold yourself to them without going over, it’s a long fall if you go over the edge.
It is essential that we acknowledge the fact that the work is never going to feel like it is done, that there will always be something more we could do. Granting ourselves permission to draw a line and stop pushing for the sake of our own sanity must happen, or we will all work ourselves into the ground. Prepare yourself at the beginning of the year, month, or unit. Allot yourself time to complete the absolute essentials, then allot time for the balance outside of school, and finally you can use what is left over to let yourself run wild with the “extras”. To successfully maintain balance we need to plan for it and make it a priority.
Including teacher inservice days we’ve been back to work for seven weeks now. For new teachers tack on two more weeks dating back to your arrivals. Some of you also spent a full week with kids on Discover Ecuador. It seems like we just started school but we’re already well into the year! Take a minute to check-in with yourself…are you getting the right amount of rest, what about your diet and exercise, and have you taken the appropriate time to decompress and relax on the weekends or with friends?
Grant yourself permission.