I can’t believe that we are already in Week 9 here in Western Australia and that the school year is almost finished. What an exciting year of ups and downs it has been for this outback teacher. It got me thinking though, what next? What are the go to things to remember about this year for next year. What is it that upon reflection you have learnt that will make it into your 2019 year?
Connect 4 – My 4 connections for 2019
For me it will be the connections I have made this year. Through avenues, such as Smile Teachers, to include the self-care that I have been practicing throughout the year. Never ever did I think that connecting with a bunch of strangers, reading a few blogs, writing a few blogs and connecting with teachers over a range of socials would benefit me in such a huge way.
It has got me thinking that I’m not alone in this big world of teaching. These amazing and incredible educators all share the same highs and lows as I do in teaching. Sharing all of this with people has made my 2018 a much easier ride.
Knowing that through my simple personal professional connection that I am now going to be assisting my colleagues through the mindset manoeuvre to come in early 2019 through Shaun and Greg and that this could be the start of something amazing for any one of my colleagues to find their ahha moment in work life balance.
My second big connection has been through a teacher health group, Healthy Teachers Aus, found them on Instagram and have joined in the app “Stridekick” challenge. It counts your steps and people have been positing NSV (non scale victories), meal prep, exercise and HTGTR (how to get through reports). I group of individuals who most have never met each other, supporting each other, building each other up and giving virtual high fives across the country.
As a regional teacher, I am so thankful for the internet and its amazing way to allow us to all connect in such valuable and authentic ways.
Connection 3 comes in the form of the environment. This year I made a pact with myself to reconnect with the environment. I am so very lucky to live in a gorgeous outback landscape and yet I was not making the most of the opportunities out here. So I reconnected with the land and made time to appreciate its beauty. Taking photos, stopping to smell the wildflowers, running and jumping in the summer storm puddles and most of all, unplugging and just being in the moment.
I cant recommend this more. Those on the coast, take your shoes off, play in the sand or wade in the water. If your home landscape includes the forests of the south, drive with your windows down allowing the cool breeze through your face. Those in the red dirt – go explore the waterholes, the salt bush or simply walk down the track to a favourite spot and sit.
My last connection of 2018 is all about friends. I shut myself away from lots of people in the last few years. I shut out those who I was closest to and found it hard to rediscover myself in their new lives after moving away from the country or even moving entire countries away. Last night I sent a message to a few people who I had lost contact with. Seems that they had also felt lost in the connections of the past and were looking to renew them in the future. Regional and remote teachers, do yourself a favour and reflect back on your R&R time, find those people you were closest to and if you’re not in contact with them, get in contact! Send them a message or a Christmas card. The joy in my heart to reconnect is something that costs zero yet has made me feel so empowered and content.
Reflections - not just in the mirrors on the walls
Another strategy that I will be taking into 2019 and developing is my self reflections. I never really use to make reflections on my teaching in a great detail. Of course I would do it when the times were tough, but never really when they are great. This year I started writing daily reflections on my work, teaching, relationships and self. Of course being me I got a personalised stamp to help me! (*clears throat* Hello, my name is Mrs Davis and I am a personalised stamp addict) A simple stamp that allowed me to put a emoji style face in the circle and write my reflections in my daily work pad.
I went back through my reflections the other day and read them. I recelebrated the successes of my students and my self as I reminisced on the victories achieved. I also was able to look at those days that got me down and had I made changes to my planning, teaching and relationships so that those days didn’t reoccur. I am proud to have a planner full of stamps and smiles that truly reflect the year I’ve had.
I also started writing down reflections on my health and wellbeing, booking time for myself in my planner so that I used that time to fuel myself. Never have I ever put me first and this year it happened. Who knew the power that you have when you look after you first. Understanding and loving you and allowing yourself to grow unapologetically. The physical reaction your body has when you give yourself permission to open up to the x’s and the o’s (hugs and kisses) that you should give yourself!
“Excuse me… can you give me a hand?”
This year I made a promise to myself that I would ask for help. As a Senior Teacher, often I am the one being asked for advice or assistance from. I decided that I would not be afraid to ask for help or seek alternative ways to get the task done. When the expectation is that you have it all together and it looks like that on the surface, it’s often hard to speak up. Being in a small school, I looked to my outside influences to assist me.
One of my best friends, who I met when teaching in the remotes, now works in a large teacher development school. She is part of the “Teachers Can Code” mentor leadership group and also majorly skilled in digital technology. I was in a muddle, so a quick email and she was able to help me solve my problem in an instant. To think how long it would have taken me if I hadn’t asked for help.
That same teacher also directed me via email, snapchat, facebook and several other means of communication, to help me implement the Talk4Writing program in my class. I attended a PL for T4W in the beginning of the year. It was a long few days of training and my brain was just not with it the whole time. It came to the implementation of the program in the class and I froze. Now normally I would go away and read more, youtube it or try and get it done by myself. Not this time! With the confidence to ask for help, I was given the effective feedback (be it long distance) I needed to see that I was on the right track.
Please please please take asking for help into the new year! It has made my 2018 far easier to handle.
Passion does not mean burnout
The final strategy that I am taking into my new year is passion. Passion for my career, passion for my life, for my family and my friends! HOWEVER, my passion will not result in burnout! I am absolutely astounded by comments and posts saying “Just laminating my 2019 class table cards” or “Already planning Term 1 2019” WHOAH STOP!! You will burn yourself out! Finish 2018 before even contemplating 2019! Its all well and god being organised and I love a good bit of organisation myself, but you have plenty of time over the next few weeks to get things sorted. No one expects you to have a “pintrest” classroom on day 1.
I will be spending no more than a week of my holidays on work related planning or prepping. You have worked hard all year to take some time off. Relax, go to the beach, drink coffee with friends, take a bath or have a massage. The school work can wait! Leave it in the bag! There are literally zero gold medals for getting it all done before anyone else.
You have every right to be excited, yes. To want to be organised, yes. To be prepared absolutely! But you owe it to yourself to check in with yourself and take time for you.
My tips for a smooth new year:
1. Make connections (or reconnections)
2. Make reflections
3. Ask for help
4. Take time for you
For those of you who are leaving the remote and regional jobs and heading to the big city – thank you for your service and time in the bush. Your students will have gained from your experiences and passions.
For those of you who are heading remote or regional for the first time – enter your new community with open eyes, open hearts and open minds.
For those of you who are returning to the remote and regional jobs – make 2019 your best year yet! Share your victories and halve your sorrows!
I’d love to hear more from our R&R followers and supporters!
Have a wonderful holidays and smile!
Be happy – Teach Well
Don't miss Smile Teachers workshop on the 29th of January... it is bound to have you starting the year with a huge smile!