The path feels wide with promise this time of year.
I'm a journal keeper. I don't write daily, but I do write regularly. Winter is the season when I look back on notes and entries with surprise, or joy, or regret. I think there are patterns to be located in my process and approach to teaching and life that are worth a share.
One of my favorite things about being a teacher is that every day brings a new opportunity to succeed. Sometimes success will be huge and draw a crowd. Most often, though, I find success in the subtle, easily overlooked parts of the job--how Alanis improved by 4 points on her vocabulary test, or how Jackson decided to participate aloud for the first time.
I don't claim these successes as just mine--but, oh, how I love witnessing them.
Still, what of the personal successes and failures?
On days that I have lunch with my colleagues, we barely have enough time to share the microwave let alone share our triumphs and failures. We all know that the classroom is dynamic and can turn on a dime.
To be able to admit our weaknesses and celebrate our strengths is crucial to good teaching because teaching should always be in a state of flux--we should always be asking ourselves, how can I do this better? How can I help? Why did this work?
One of my resolutions this year is to make more time to collaborate with and simply listen to my colleagues more often.
Even if we occupy the same garden, we bloom in unique and spectacular ways--surely I have tons to gain from those who are planted right next to me.
I'm so much happier when I make time to take care of myself.
It's taken me years to learn that self care can be a daily practice and that such practice doesn't mean I'm selfish. I'm still learning this.
A couple of years ago, I wrote about how dysfunctional my priorities had become. Teaching means that we are needed. Endlessly.
I had to confront how my needs had taken a backseat to the needs of others and to the detriment of my physical health. Once I recovered, I was also able to see how putting myself last didn't make me a better mother or wife or teacher.
I still have to fight the urge to say 'yes' when I shouldn't. I still tend to feel guilty if I steal a half hour or more for myself to exercise, or read, or write.
Those voices--I know teachers will recognize them--the ones that say, you should be grading, you should be planning, they're loud. But they're wrong.
This year I'm going to forgive myself when I miss the mark, and I resolve to protect my time for self-care too.
(I would love to know how you make time for yourselves and how you practice self-care--please share in the comments section if you're willing.)
Walking is exercise.
Walking is meditative and easy and accessible unless it's the summer here in the desert--good thing there are indoor tracks. Today I realized that my thinking about self care, walking, exercising and teaching has been disjointed and, well, flawed.
When I make the time to take a walk, the benefits are immediate. I feel better. I think better. Often, it is when I'm walking that I notice something which influences a poem or an essay I'm working on.
Or, when I'm walking, I will have an epiphany about how to approach a lesson or help a struggling student. It's all connected and these connections happen more if I'm walking in the world.
So, my final resolution for this year is to take a daily walk.
I reviewed my journals earlier in the day, but made these connections during a beautiful, sun-filled walk. These patterns of self discovery seem to lining up to help me make some positive changes for the year ahead.
(Please, share your daily walking pics or epiphanies below.)
May 2016 be filled with joy, love, and time to notice all of the paths we can choose to walk together.
Happy New Year!