As we wind up another school year we often think back on the year that was, and dive into the summer that is. These transitions are are an opportune time for reflection and planning. But too often I hear teachers focusing so much thought and energy on what they should have done, (I should have done more with fractions, I should have had the kids write letters to next years class, I should have….)and what they should do this summer, (I should take that class, I should read more professional books, I should…) These are all great ideas to be sure, but when approached with a should mindset, they seem more like a duty than a choice.
When we find ourselves using this verb we need to give it some thought. Some of the synonyms for should include: be one’s duty, be compelled to, be forced to, must, and even suffer! Should often implies you’d rather be doing something else! Sometimes should is appropriate, but if we spend so much energy “shoulding on ourselves” we might be missing out on opportunities that truly feed us in more positive ways.
When we hear ourselves saying, “I really should…”, let’s ask ourselves:
- Who is this really for?
- How will this really make my life or my teaching better?
- Are there other options?
- What would happen if I didn’t?
That might lead to other questions to help us reflect and plan ahead:
- What worked well this year that I’d like to continue?
- What could I try next year that would make teaching and learning more rewarding or effective?
- What would make my summer better for me, for my family, for my community?
- What would I enjoy doing this summer that would benefit my students?
- What would feed my personal or professional growth?
We can’t do it all. We are often very unforgiving of ourselves when we feel we need to do more. We spend far too little time appreciating what do well. This leads to a shouldy attitude! The best gift we can give our students is a teacher who embraces life as well as learning. A happy, healthy teacher can offer so much more than a tired, shouldy teacher.
So take time this summer to LIVE! Listen to the birds in the morning, watch your kids splash in the cool water, get lost in a book, stay up too late at a drive-in, roast marshmallows, drive to someplace you’ve never been, write a story, look for sea glass, watch for shooting stars, pick up a frog, join in a twitter chat, go for walks with your loved one, buy some lemonade at a stand, unplug for awhile, close your eyes and see what you notice, try something you’ve never done before…
Not because you should, just because you can. Life is full of choices, choose wisely.
What’s on My Book Radar?
Every once in awhile a book comes out and you think, “What a great idea!” This definitely falls into that category! Kids will LOVE following these steps for how to read stories, and I can just see the wheels spinning in their heads for creating their own steps! Kate Messner has such a great range in her writing: professional books for teachers, chapter books for older readers, and picture books for younger readers. If you aren’t a fan of hers yet, you should be. (Haaa, just kidding…you’ll want to be!!)
Join Kate and some amazing authors this summer for the 4th annual TEACHERS WRITE. As Kate’s site says, “Teachers Write is a free online summer writing camp, especially for teachers and librarians. It’s a chance to practice your own writing in a warm, supportive environment so that you can go back to your students with new ideas and (in many cases) a new sense of empathy for the courage involved in writing and sharing one’s work. We offer daily inspiration and assignments, including mini-lessons, writing prompts, and Q and A sessions with authors whose books you and your students love.”
Teachers don’t join this group because they should-they join because they want to connect with some amazing authors and walk the talk!
Happy Reading (and writing)!