Happy New Year! For those outside of education, the New Year is a time of renewal, a time to make new goals and plans to achieve them. It’s often a new fiscal year for companies, businesses, and individuals. The New Year brings the promise of a fresh start and the opportunity to reset elements in your life that need a reboot.
As an educator, I have always felt that this is my midpoint. It’s often the midpoint of the school year and when we change semesters and get different students or classes. It’s after the first set of breaks, but before the next set. It’s at this midpoint in the school year when we look at student growth and not just academically. This is when it becomes evident to many of us how much our students grow and change physically and emotionally. The midpoint of the school year, or New Years, often becomes a time of reflection.
Multitasking Can Take a Toll
As educators, I think we tend to get down on ourselves easily. Many of us work so hard every day and pour ourselves into our students, our colleagues, our school, our district, and our profession. When I describe what a day of school is like to family and friends, I often use the analogy of jumper cables. Being a teacher or working in a school is like being a battery that is hooked up to jumper cables. Every few minutes you get jolted. All day. Every day. There are several good blog posts and articles about the sheer number of decisions and tasks a teacher faces and makes in any given day (Teachers Are Master Multi-taskers (But We Already Knew That…, A Teacher Makes 1500 Educational Decisions A Day, Decision Making). That constant multi-tasking wears us down mentally and physically. There is a quote that has become a widely used analogy in education. It’s that teachers make more minute-by-minute decisions than brain surgeons. Honestly, it could be fairly accurate, but no one has done any official research. It does, however, paint a vivid picture of a day in the life of teacher for those of us that live it. There isn’t a lot of recognition or glory in an educator’s day-to-day world.
Find Your People
Educators are notorious for not sharing their triumphs, their successes, or their awards. We also may not share our failures or mistakes and what we learn from them. So when we do share or put ourselves out there, there are often colleagues at our school or friends and family members that are less than impressed.
My PLN however, my carefully selected PLN on Twitter, is my professional chosen family. I know I can open that app, and in less than five minutes, find something that makes me think, something that inspires me, someone I can help, or something that just makes me smile. Many of the people I follow, I actually know. I have a personal relationship with that person to some degree because we have real conversations. I know I can go to them and share a success or a moment in the spotlight that lifts me up and propels me forward, and there, that community will celebrate me. Sometimes the rest of the world is like “Congratulations! That’s great. What’s for dinner? Can you go to the store and get me some new earbuds? Is the laminator on? Do you have a book recommendation? Can you help me with my YouTube channel?” But my PLN gets it. They get what a momentous achievement it is when I win an award or a publish an article or have a presentation that is well received. They get it when I write a blog post about something that I learned with my students that took days, weeks, or months to develop. They get it when I share pictures and videos of my students learning and growing and changing.
Just as so many are there for me and have my back, I try to do the same for them. I celebrate others when they have an achievement, and I try to LIKE the things people put out there because I know it helps people feel acknowledged and seen. Some people are natural encouragers, but I feel like social media allows us to be intentional about encouragement, even if it doesn’t come naturally.
Let Your Community Lift You Up in 2019
This brings me back to my original reflection: It’s our midpoint in the school year, and many of us are looking for those things that lift us up and propel us to the next moment. We want to find the motivation to be genuinely excited about on Tuesday in January as we work with hundreds of students and other teachers and staff in our buildings. We are looking for those things that bring us real joy. As you reflect at your midpoint in the school year, I encourage you to find the community in your life that lifts you up. I like Twitter, but yours may be another social media platform, the TCEA Community, a text strand, or a group messaging app. When you find that community, or if you already have one, make it a habit to share all the things with them. As an educator, you’ve earned it. Embrace your ability to shine bright and be seen in 2019!
This is a guest blog by Nancy Jo Lambert. Nancy Jo is a high school teacher librarian at Reedy High School in Frisco ISD and Vice President of LIB-SIG. This blog is part of a monthly series of blogs from LIB-SIG.