I feel like hibernating for a year. Seriously, this year has wiped me out and the past few months have been the most challenging. Students have lost motivation and teachers, myself included, are wearing down.
My school has been doing a concurrent hybrid model where we teach both in-person and remote students at the same time. Until you've done this, you have no idea the amount of energy it drains you of. During a normal year, I'm tired at this point of the year, but the exhaustion I feel from trying to get students to respond to me is too much most days and we have a little more than a week left.
The mental and physical toll this year has taken on me is one for the books. I struggle with knowing if I'm being clear with my students or if they are learning at home because I don't hear from most of my students online during a class period. Because I'm staring at a screen, my eyes are strained causing frequent headaches despite wearing blue light glasses. My body is sore from being stationary the majority of the day. I have a standing desk, but it's still not enough movement compared to what I would normally be able to do during a school day.
This week I started to focus on what's to come for next school year. While we don't know all of the details for certain just yet, we know that students will be coming back to school, which means that we have a little bit of normalcy! When I planned during this school year, it was a lot to have to think about what students who were at home wouldn't be able to do and how I could adapt something for an online environment or just how to cut things that don't work in that environment. It was exhausting between planning and uploading assignments every day, BUT I found that looking forward to next year brought me more excitement.
I'm a planner. Not a huge planner, but I like a big picture and then going through my calendars and mapping it all out. Not many teachers like this, but it gives me satisfaction in knowing that I have things up my sleeve that will make students excited to come to class. It's like knowing the exciting part of a movie or book and you can't wait to see how students react to it. This year I haven't seen students' reactions or if they've even reacted. I like being able to think about ways that we can have a community in my classroom that didn't really exist until much later in the year (or ever in some cases).
This summer, I knew that I would need to take a step back from the amount of time that I dedicate to school. Last summer we trained and put together materials to make this year possible. My goal is to do far less this summer with regards to school. There's still some work that probably needs to be done, but it's not near the amount that needed to be done last summer.
I came up with an acronym to focus me this summer, and I hope that it helps you as well.
R - Re-energize.
E - Establish a routine.
S - Savor the moments.
T - Take time for myself.
Re-energize. I don't think this needs an explanation....see above for why I need to find positive energy this summer!
Establish a routine. Summer is sometimes a shock to the system in terms of sleep and meal times. I want to try to create a routine that will allow me time to unwind and really make use of the time that I have!
Savor the moments. If something pops up, I want to take the time to really enjoy them and capture those moments to remember for next school year. I have a few pictures up in my classroom of events/people that created happy memories for me. It's time to update those!
Take time for myself. I've spent a lot of time this year taking care of others and making sure that everything ran smoothly for both students and fellow co-workers. It's time for me to get a massage, read a book, enjoy a glass of wine on the porch in the evening. We've been preached at about self-care all year, but in reality, there wasn't enough time in the day for that to happen. (Seriously, stop having the PD about it and just give me a certificate for a massage!)
Teachers, you've made it, or you're almost to the finish line. This is the metaphorical light at the end of the dark tunnel that has been this school year. What do you plan to recharge this summer? Share with me and others in the comments!