I'll admit something, I dread April and May. With every fiber of my being. Can I admit this to you? Will you judge me?
Why can't we all just skip the last two months of the year? It is easy to see why so many people jump at the chance to leave the classroom when they can. It is sooooooo hard to stay here. It isn't your students that drive you to despair; it is the other stuff – or “schtuff” as my husband calls it. Printing the certificates and updating the databases and doing everything else.
So, here I am the last day of Spring Break writing this as we're driving home in the rain, and I don't want to go back. I don't want to go to school tomorrow. I want to see my students – yes. I do; I want to share stories, and I even want to teach them the things that I've planned. I'm looking forward to that. I just can't fathom how I'll do it all plus cook dinner at night and keep the clothes washed, etc. etc. etc. (I can hear Yul Brenner saying that in the “King and I” — it is the “etcetera etcetera etcetera” that kills most teachers.)
So, I'm whining now. I think I'll probably delete at least half of what I wrote in these previous sentences (I did) except that I want you other teachers to know where I am. I know this — YOU'RE RIGHT HERE WITH ME. You know the stress of the last few months. You feel it. Your teeth are clenched and many of you are wondering how you're going to survive. So, here we go, I'm going to share with you what gets me through this time. Unclench your teeth, relax and let's do it! (Now that I've gotten over my desire to quit.) Are you ready?
1- Solve By Moving Forward
“Solvitur ambulando” – is Latin. It means “it is solved by walking” The problem of April and May is not solved by sitting and stressing about it. It is solved by walking. One foot in front of the other. One task in front of the other. I will solve this by walking ahead.
Each day, I'll make a list for the next and make appointments to do major tasks and put them on my calendar. I will solve this problem by walking. Can you?
2 – Listen To Awesome Music
Music is a natural mood booster. Keep some headphones in your room. As for me, when I have time without students, I tune out the ambient noise and enter my own “Cone of Silence.” I have a playlist called “Hope” that I play on the hard days.
3 – Be Strategic About Mornings
How do you start the day with the most peace and purpose? For me, I pray and read my Bible no matter what. Not because this makes me a good person, it makes me a purposeful person. One day I realized that the very best days of my life started this way, and then I asked myself why I wouldn't want to have the “Best Day” every day. After my morning wake up routine, I grab a cappuccino and start writing. Writing gives me joy. What morning routine helps you live your Best Days ever? Do it, especially during April/ May/ June.
[callout]An excellent book, The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM), is the best one I've seen about focusing your mornings on success. I follow the SAVERS principal but call it PAVERS (Prayer, Affirmations, Vision, Exercise, Reading, Scribing). I substitute prayer for silence, but we each have our own method.[/callout]
4 – Top Off Your Tanks.
This is vitally important. Have you ever noticed that if you keep waiting to fill up your car with gas, you end up driving around town on empty. It causes even more stress and you don't know if you're going to make it. Something small just became very very big. During April/ May, I take steps to top off my tanks.
Every chance I think about it and I need gas in the car, I top it off. (Usually every Saturday morning.) But this also applies to everything else in my life. If I'm feeling really tired, I top off my sleep tanks and guilt-free go to bed early. If I sense that I'm getting anxious or upset, I immediately take steps to deal with the issue, if I can, or to journal it. Top off Your Tanks –whichever kind runs empty.
5 – Keep a Joy Journal.
If you write five things a day in a journal – that is all it takes to be happier than if you'd won the lottery. (See 9 Fine Reasons to Keep a Journal.) Not kidding. It is crazy, but true. These months when I know I'm going to be calling 9 – waa – waa much more than I should (calling the waaaaaambulance is never any fun) — I have to keep my joy front and center.
6 – Let the Rough End Drag
Granny Martin always said “sometimes you gotta let the rough end drag.” In these last few weeks of school, my husband makes me promise not to feel guilty about dinner, etc. I have to put my perfectionist tendencies to the side and stop expecting myself to cook huge meals each night and be OK with a sandwich. It is OK.
7 – Forgive and Move On
This is the biggest. You have to realize and understand that EVERYONE I mean EVERYONE is in the same boat with you. If you sink their boat, you sink yours too. You've got to row together. Hurting people, hurt people. Fighting in a row boat is always a dumb move.
8 – Work Towards Your Task.
There's a Chinese Saying “Man who waits for roast duck to fly in mouth will wait long time.” You've got work to do then DO IT. Idle chatter is a procrastination technique (as my pastor has so aptly said). I've found that my attitude tends to go in the opposite direction of how much I talk. (For you non-math folks — the less I talk and more I do, the better I feel — the more I talk and less I do, the worse I feel.)
9 – Enjoy the Moments
This May is also important because my daughter and son will come home from college for a bit before school is out. If I can't enjoy the moments with her and let my stress ruin it, then I'll miss out on so much. We'll find small things to celebrate and find little ways to celebrate them. A good smelling candle, a cup of coffee together after school, an unexpected trip to the mall — I can't let the tasks keep me from the most important thing of all — being a human BEING and not just a HUMAN DOING.
10 – End well
I've written often about ending well and finishing the race. I teach until the last day (see Finding Your Beautiful Moment the Last Week of School). There are hundreds of eyes watching you. Sure, there are some teachers who will check out early. They'll watch videos the last few days, but these kids have videos they can watch all summer. They won't have you. Teach until the last bell rings. Hold focus groups with your students to get feedback and to improve yourself over the summer. Plan memorable moments full of meaning to help them remember what they've done. Be epic.
These are the best of times and the worst of times. There will be laughter and you'll likely be up at least a few times crying into your pillow at 2 am. This is my 13th year of this and it is this way every year. But every year while I dread it more, I get better at handling it.
Solvitur ambulando. We can do this
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