By Pamela Hall
Super Glue is one of my superpowers. I fix everything with Super Glue. (Well, almost everything.) When my boys were growing up, they'd put their broken toys on my desk. They knew I'd work my magic Super Glue powers to repair them. And I did. Recently, I learned how much my Super Glue superpower stuck with my children. My twenty-one-year-old’s toilet broke. Want to know how he repaired it? Yep. Super Glue.
Unfortunately, when you and I fall apart, Super Glue isn't enough. What we need for repair is some self-care and a proactive plan. (I know self-care is a buzzword right now. Still, it's been around since the beginning of time for good reason.) A proactive plan is preventive measures.
A recent educator poll revealed what educators are struggling with. By far, the #1 challenge is exhaustion and overwhelm. I get it. You've been teaching and leading in a year like none other. The media keeps calling it a dumpster fire. The thing I'm most worried about for you who see 2021 as a panacea, or a finish line of sorts, is you're not going to make it into 2022. Nothing magical is happening in 2021 just because you turn the calendar page. A new year and time off isn't the problem. What you do with your new year and time off is what will sustain you.
In a different poll I conducted on Twitter, educators responded that the number one character trait teachers need is empathy and fostering relationships. How in the world can you and I do this well when we're depleted by district demands and a draining life?
I've learned the hard way. About three years ago, I crashed—big time. I almost left my calling, education. I called it burnout, but I think it was bigger than burnout. (You can find out more about this in my book coming out in 2021.) Since then, I've learned to be proactive instead of reactive.
STRONG educators aren't developed by accident. No one likes it, but daily discipline gets results. Being intentional and mindful about your needs makes you stronger, so when adversity comes, and it will, you'll weather the storm.
While you're probably amazed you've (almost) survived 2020 as an educator, if you're thinking ahead like most educators, you're already making plans for 2021.
How can you plan for it?
You prepare for what you can control.
Here are 6 things to do now. (and in the future.)
S- Stop and remember your why
T- Take Time to Thank
R- Rest and Revive
O- Omit Negative
N- Never Give Up
G- Go Deeper
In my book coming out in 2021, I write about each step in depth. For now, let's stick our toe into Rest and Revive.
Exhaustion is real. I reached it, again, and didn't realize it. Why? It's a slow fade, like gaining five to ten pounds. You don't notice one pound at a time until you put on one of your favorite outfits and the seams scream. Without having the reminder of an alarm, I slept two days in a row for ten hours each night. (Being on a break is great for sleeping in.) I put on my "happy pants" for days and days, pushing through whatever came my way for the kids. I didn't even recognize my exhaustion until a week ago when I sat down to craft this post, and no words came. (It's hard to be creative when you're depleted.) I quit running. I disengaged from the very thing that makes me feel better. (Learn more about burnout and disengagement.) How did it begin? I slipped into ignoring my bedtime routine and staying up an hour later. One hour later each night led to exhaustion.
So the first step to STRONG is awareness. It’s important to not be so busy, you’re not aware of your need. Be mindful of your needs. Some of you might not have hours and hours of time but have pockets of time. Leave space for self-care. When you’re not intentional and have no plan, you’ll start scrolling on social media. (or enter some other rabbit trail.) Before you know it, a whole hour is gone. Have a plan and purpose, so minutes fill you instead of depleting you.
Rest is vital. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule helps us stay alert and healthy. Rest takes the form of sleep, for sure. It also takes the form of doing something that fills you and revives you, like taking a walk outside. Sitting still by a fountain. Find what brings you peace and revives you, and do it often. After three days of intentional rest, my creativity is climbing and the going-through-the-motions fog lifted.
I tout being STRONG and embracing self-care. I purposefully plan self-care. So how did I end up in the land of exhaustion? It happens. What educators do, by nature, is exhausting. Now add a global pandemic and new teaching and leading methods with unstable internet to the mix. A surefire recipe for exhaustion and overwhelm.
So what do we do about it?
Take action. (and give yourself grace.) Intentionally plan to incorporate STRONG into your life. Just one step at a time. All results start with small steps. Repetition over time creates habits and strength. You'll be filled with passion and purpose. You'll be rested and ready when a storm comes. Best of all, you won't worry about needing Super Glue.
Get more inspiration and STRONG tips by visiting https://www.pamhall2inspire.com/ and clicking “Inspire Me”.
Pamela cares about creating community and would love to connect with you.
Pamela Hall, a multi-national award-winning educator, is a speaker and author dedicated to helping educators consciously connect with and grow all learners. Pamela's a life-long learner leading and inspiring thousands of students and educators.
Pamela has appeared on P.B.S., in many magazines such as Educator Insights, and local news. She's a passionate educator specializing in student relationships, class culture, engaging challenging students, and hands-on, life-applicable learning. She encourages educators to be STRONG and embrace self-care.
She's an ordinary cappuccino drinking, chocolate eating mom and wife from Virginia with an extraordinary passion for making a positive difference.
Pamela is excited to share a book coming to you in 2021 by EduMatch Publishing. It's centered around amplifying all students' potential through culture, community, and being STRONG. It's packed with personal stories and doable strategies to help all kids succeed. (Even the challenging ones.)