End of Year Thoughts and Continued Self-Reflection

It is FINALLY Memorial Day weekend. We can’t help but feel a bit overwhelmed knowing that we still have 3 weeks left of school. A year ago, we shared how tired we were, and how we needed to rest and recover from the challenging year. Well, this year has felt even more challenging. We wonder if it is because each year has been so different from the previous. Does it continue to feel like a struggle because there is no routine or rhythm? We are in a constant state of shifting, pivoting, punting, and revising; all of which takes energy, effort, and thought. No wonder we are exhausted. And while we are exhausted, we still need to show up. Like Todd Nesloney says, “Kids Deserve It.”

When you consider the quote “Misery loves company,” does it remind you of some typical conversations in the staff room lately? It seems like most adult interactions in a school connect to a conversation about how overwhelmed we feel or how “crazy” the kids are. Yes, it's the end of the school year, and the sun is shining. They can feel the end of school drawing near, and they are ready! Have you considered though, what if our students are reacting to us? Author Louise Hay wrote, “Children often respond to the mental atmosphere of the adults around them.” We are responsible for setting the emotional climate of the classroom. So if we have big emotional reactions to the kids, they will have big emotional reactions to us too.

So what are we saying? Are we implying we must be calm and structured all the time? Or that students will fall in line if we are rigid in our expectations and we should never get “emotional?” No way. We are humans, not robots. We are simply saying we have a choice in how we respond to student behavior. Louise Hay also wrote,

“Responsibility is our ability to respond to a situation. We always have a choice. It does not mean that we deny who we are and what we have in our lives. It merely means that we can acknowledge that we have contributed to where we are. By taking responsibility, we have the power to change. We can say, 'What can I do to make this different?' We need to understand that we all have personal power all the time. It depends on how we use it.”

We recently read Brene Brown’s Atlas of the Heart. If you haven’t, it is a MUST. We are always amazed at how her words are just what we need. In Atlas of the Heart, she refers to

Elizabeth Gilbert’s quote, “You’re afraid of surrender because you don’t want to lose control. But you never had control. All you had was anxiety.” Does this connect to being an educator or what?! Our lack of routine and rhythm has left us feeling so out of control. We are responsible for so much: academics, social and emotional learning, parenting, counseling, and more that feel too hard to list. As teachers, when we feel unsure, we double down on our ability to keep control of our classroom. There is security in holding that control. The truth is, we are burning ourselves out trying to hold on to that control. Reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s quote stopped us dead in our tracks. We never had control, we only had anxiety.... That’s powerful. Anxiety is getting us nowhere. We cannot achieve our goals and meet the needs of our students in this state.

So as you begin to wrap up your school year, focus on your mindset and your ability to take responsibility. This is heavy. Maybe too heavy for the end of the year, but we had to share. As we have been struggling with our own mindsets we remembered to listen, read, and surround ourselves with productive and accountable thinking. So, what is in your social media feed? What are you reading? Who are you hanging out with? What are you saying to others? Metacognition is not easy or comfortable, but totally worth it. You have the power to change your reality.

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