Summertime and the living's easy...
School's out for summer and I hope that all of us engage in opportunities to pursue our passions and interests. I know when I was teaching (and was young and had no kids or a dog), I couldn't wait to travel. Traveling gave me a strong sense of connection in this world. I loved meeting new people and seeing amazing sites. Traveling always gave me a steady belief that the world is mostly beautiful and that people really are people for the most part. We have have the same hopes and dreams. I remember one summer traveling through Mexico and meeting some students on a bus. My Spanish was poor, but I could see that they were practicing English. We spent the whole bus ride teaching each other. It was amazing. And it dawned on me, I am always in teacher mode! I think it is the curse of teaching. I am always thinking about ways to engage in teaching and learning. I remember friends even telling me to stop using my teacher voice when we were having conversations. I do not have the best advice for turning off the educator voice in our heads, but I wanted to share a story about the need to recharge our batteries and reflection!
Traveling is tiring and can be expensive. When I was in my twenties, I would strap on my 60 pound backpack and show up in whatever countries were on my list for that summer. Most of the time, I traveled by myself. Usually, my best friends that summer were books. It was exhausting at times carrying that backpack through cities and mountains. It was exhausting always having to watch my backpack. It was exhausting sleeping on cramped busses and quarters. And it was worth it. When I climbed to top of a pyramid in Mexico or walked the Great Wall of China or saw the amazing Iguacu Falls, my backpack felt light as a feather. The journey was everything to me. Of course, as I got older, I started booking traveling tours. I used to wonder why until I tried to backpack through Europe with my then fiance and realized that my mind said yes, but my back said, "Oh hell to the no no!" The one thing that I enjoyed the most though were those still moments on a train or in a site, where you just had a moment to reflect on how awesome this moment is.
I try to leave teaching behind, but it won't leave me alone! So, I embrace it. I am a life-long learner and I revere summer as an opportunity to both recharge and reflect. I might take some professional development course, but mostly, I try to use my break to rest and think, How I can become my next best self as an educator? I love when the creativity flows and I see better versions of what I can be. Sometimes, I will listen to a podcast or watch Ted Talks like this one...
I look for inspiration in my time off from the education world. As you spend your time pursing your passions and spending time with loved ones, I hope you envision what you want to become next in your education career. I hope you aspire to be forever young in your thinking and forever wise in how you grow. Our students need to see us as learners well. And most importantly, don't forget that you make a big difference in the lives of young people.
I remember seeing Natasha Bedingfield with Maroon Five many years ago and she had a great song that captured the essence of growth and reflection in my opinion. It's called Unwritten and she boldly states:
I am unwritten, can't read my mind, I am undefined
I'm just beginning, the pen's in my hand, ending unplanned
I think this song captures the true essence of summer break and reflection. We have the power to keep redefining ourselves. We are all the authors of our lives! But, if there is one song that always gets me in a reflective mood, it's In My Life by the Beatles. It always seems to recalibrate my compass on what is most important in my life.
Have a great break and I hope your soul is fed.