For most of us who work in the field of education, July is a time of rest. Some of us enjoy the extra time to work with our hands in the warm soil that provides life to vegetables or flowers. Others enjoy reading a book and consuming a nice cold drink while we sit and relax in the sun. Some people will travel far to visit places that they have dreamed about all year long and others will settle in their comfy camper and enjoy visiting and laughing by the light of a fire while reconnecting with family and friends.
visiting and laughing by the light of the fire while reconnecting...
There are those outside of education who think summer vacation is the only reason we became teachers. They assume that we work only for that extra long break between the end of a school year and the start of a new one.
The fact is, while that time of rest and relaxation is definitely enjoyable, it is not the reason most of us became educators.
The fact is, we love teaching.
It's really as simple as that.
There is something magical that happens inside when a child makes that connection and you're the one who helped them get there. Whether they finally figured out what a fraction means or wrote their first poem. Maybe you were the one who truly listened when they were seeking just to be heard. Or maybe you were the one who finally made learning fun.
That's why most of us became teachers.
It doesn't take very long to follow different teacher groups on Instagram or Facebook and realize that while the love of being there for the kids is still present, the capacity to carry on year after year is waning. I do not know the stats for the number of teachers that have left the profession but I have spoken with more teachers than I have ever in my 32 years of teaching who wonder how long they can carry on.
The capacity to carry on year after year is waning.
So possibly, July is now a time of healing and a time of reconnection to their heart and soul. Maybe, it is a time of deep reflection and resolving to find a way through the challenges that they know aren't going away anytime soon.
A time of reflection, resolving, reconnection...
You've all heard the safety instruction when you go on an airplane - in an emergency, parents need to put the oxygen mask on themselves first.
That's what teachers need to do. Our students, colleagues and school communities all need us to take care of our mental health needs first.
Take care of our mental health needs first!
Over the past 5.5 years, I have been on a very arduous mental health journey. I lost my son to suicide, burdened alongside my family with thoughts of guilt, loss and pain. All the while, I watched as a worldwide pandemic turned all of our lives upside down and I struggled to find my way through it, along with everyone else.
During this time I was introduced to an important way to do just that. It is called validation.
Validation for colleagues and parents and students and self-validation for me.
This month my goal is to explore validation more for those of us who work in the education system. I want to share knowledge that I've gained and stories of personal experience with the hope that you will walk away with a clearer image of how validation can work for you.
I believe it will help to renew your heart and soul so you will have the capacity to love teaching once again.
During this month of rest, relaxation and rejuvenation I encourage you to do some exploring of new ways to restore yourself for the fall that is on its way far too quickly.
I wish you a wonderful summer break and I hope you will let SILA Skills be part of your journey this July.
Follow us on Facebook or Instagram as we explore the concept of validation together.