A letter to myself to start the school year…

by teachingcognitively

We all have hopes and dreams for the year.  Instead of writing my goals or thinking about hopes I am more interested in a letter to the my mid-year self reminding me about what I want to accomplish and what I want to remember from this summer.  Summer for a teacher is a time of reflection and learning and this summer was no different.  It was a tough summer.  In the beginning of July I had brain surgery to remove tissue that formed over a shunt that had been put in with no problems 12 years ago. The surgery itself went great and I recovered well but it was a tough way to start the summer. I had just started a yoga teacher training when I had surgery. After being home recovering for a week I returned to the Yoga Teacher Training that I had started before my surgery.  The YTT (Yoga Teacher Training) was a powerful and time consuming part of my summer.  Maybe due to this I am more reflective on what I want to take with me into the year this fall and less likely to jump into doing stuff, layering on worksheets and questionnaires, quicker to get to the meat and the important stuff.  It was in this midst of this reflection that three key ideas began to crystalize for me.

  1. Take care of Self
  2. Open your hands and breathe
  3. Take time on the things you think are important

Obviously taking care of self emerged after my surgery. It just so happens that the time right before the surgery I had overloaded myself. It was the end of the year that is always crazy, I did a half-marathon in Vermont for Memorial Day weekend, I had started a fellowship and was finishing a class.  I was stretched in all directions.  It was not a good month without the surgery and the surgery certainly stopped me in my tracks.  I hope that I do not need these sorts of wake-up calls in the future.  Sadly, the first brain surgery I had to put in my shunt also came when I overbooked myself as I was graduating from college…coincidence?

During the YTT we had to assist yoga classes. The classes were very crowded and it was stressful helping while not being the teacher.  Our teacher constantly emphasized our energy in the room as a tool to assist.  She urged us to walk with our hands open and breathe deep.  When commenting on our assisting after the classes she often referred to our breath and body language.  I hope to remind myself to open my hands and breathe often. If nothing else is working at the very least I can be grounded and open to my students.

In August of this summer I went to a workshop at the Green Engineering Lab at Newton North High School.  This Nationally recognized STEM program was impressive to visit and Steve Chinosi, the founder head of the program, was very generous with his time and ideas.  Of all we learned there, and there was a lot to learn, the most powerful was that Steve did not start his Innovation classes with a lot of guidelines or worksheets. He starts right away with building because he wants to emphasize what is important to him.  The time we put on things and what we chose to do emphasizes our values.  It’s why I am starting my year with hearing about where all my students are at after their summer.  I teach science but more importantly I teacher students and the science means very little if I am not teaching students well.

My students will be writing letters to themselves tomorrow.  I will be reading them this letter to start. Each interim and then each quarter we will go back and read our letters and add, revise or just notice where we are at.  I am excited to see how we all feel about our letters in June.  Here’s to a year of time and care for self, breathing and taking time on the things that are truly important.