By Amber Walters, IPLI Mentor, Principal at Avon Intermediate School West
Day in and day out, we hear of teachers leaving the profession. It is too much. The demands are too high. Legislation and parents demand transparency into lessons. SEL. CASEL. CRT. Covid fatigue. Trauma. Student behaviors. Parents and unreasonable requests. Bullying. Social Media. Constant, never-ending email requests from those who don’t agree with masks or no masks. The typical day-to-day of what used to be “normal,” whatever that means. Now the new normal of constant contact tracing when nowhere else in the world is contact tracing. Staff fills multiple positions throughout one day to ensure students are safe. No substitutes, no bus drivers, no support. Where did the joy in teaching and leading go? What is left to love?
So, what is left to LOVE? That is easy. No question asked. THE KIDS. The kids, the students. They are not going anywhere, and they are the #1 reason we all walked through the door, to begin with, regardless of everything mentioned above. We didn’t pick this career for the fortune, glory, or accolades. We chose it because our hearts care about being the difference, being the change-makers for kids. We must find the joy and love to come together, to find balance in our day-to-day to support one another so that our LOVE for kids will grow larger. Together we can persevere through these challenges. We must step into our new normal; we can enter the PRESENT. Our kids need us now more than they ever have. We must put on our oxygen masks FIRST during this crisis and BREATHE.
So, what is left to LOVE? Our Craft and art of TEACHING and LEADING. We have a true gift in the work we do each day. We develop lessons and differentiate for the many students and adults we teach and lead each day. We pour our hearts and minds into our daily work to ensure our students and staff get the best out of our work. We plan and then replan because we see that our students and staff need something different. We reteach and enrich because they need something different and something more. We analyze data to identify where we can grow and be better. We make learning come to life to bring unique, relative experiences to our students so that our students will reward us with uncommon efforts and attitudes towards their work. Teaching and leading is the work of the HEART.
What else is left to LOVE? Our COLLEAGUES. When you work day in and day out and pour so much of your HEART into helping kids, you must lean in on your colleagues and school family. If not, you will break. No questions asked. It would be best if you found someone near you that will be your cheerleader, your person that will be there to lift you in the hard times and celebrate in the good times. Nothing is easy about our day-to-day work, but it is all worth it. We are shaping the future one child at a time. The power of our work is what makes the HEART of the world beat. Teachers need connections, just as any other human needs connection. Our brains are wired for connection. Relationships are critical to our health and well-being. Eat lunch in the lounge. Eat lunch in a classroom with a colleague. Take a walk. Be with your colleagues. Find a colleague you have never talked to and introduce yourself! We must stick together and support one another through the hard times, but most importantly, we must celebrate every victory, no matter how small or how large. There are so many victories- celebrate all of them with your kids and your colleagues!
What else is left to LOVE? The breaks. Yes, the SCHOOL BREAKS for SELF CARE. have always
been a bonus to the life of a teacher and leader. As many give us grief for these breaks,
many don’t see much of them in reality. However, these breaks are critical for our self-care
and balance. As building principals, we are juggling 500 plates or balls in the air during any
given school day. We are often like doctors in urgent care, trying to triage and determine
what needs us most at that very moment. It is so hard. We feel like we have nothing left to
give by the time we get home. This must be one of the hardest things to feel, ever. So, yes,
it’s ok to LOVE our breaks because if there is any time that we should try to 100% disconnect
from school/ work, it is our breaks.
There is so much left to LOVE in teaching and leading. These four are small pieces to the
many of what is left to LOVE. Teaching & leading is a GIFT. It is a DREAM JOB. Not everyone
can be a great teacher or leader for children and adults. It is truly an honor and a privilege—
there is so much to LOVE about teaching and leading- Kids will always be #1, learning from
others. The art of our Craft. Colleagues. School breaks so that we can recharge and selfcare.
So, what is left to about Teaching and Leading?
So much… but most of all YOU! You are a gift! YOU are making a difference in the life of
a child each day. Love yourself and the work you are doing. As we teach and lead in 2022, let’s
step into the PRESENT, put on our oxygen masks, and seek out the positive. Stay focused on kids
our self-care and always BE KIND. Be your advocate. Be their advocate. Just like a snowflake,
every one of our kids is different, no two are exactly alike, and we are the ones who have been
charged to care and teach them in the way that is best for them. They are a gift that we have the
honor and privilege of serving & care for every day.