NLTA Vice-President

Dedicated to my grandfather, Baxter Langdon; small in stature but walked tall with integrity...

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

'When Pondering Leads to Wandering'

Ever feel like it is just too heavy and challenging to CARE anymore? (This is your red flag).

As educators, we invest exorbitant amounts of energy and emotion into our preparation, daily interactions, 'real-time' communications, and 'pondering'. Upon entering this field, we knowingly signed up for the litany of lesson plans, the email barrage, and the tangled web of assessment. But did we truly know or expect the emotional journey that this career path would hold for us? 

We all have those experiences that become intrusive (in the most altruistic sense of the word):

* The student that may be going through a particularly rough time and seems to take up cranial residence in your mind; 

* A student that presents with daily behavioral challenges and despite your efforts, is seemingly making little progress; 

* Or that individual, that in spite of all the positive interventions you have initiated today, still finds a way to tear down your decision-making or actions. 

I would argue that it is the obsessive 'pondering' (not to be confused with the pedagogically-sound practice of 'reflection') and the sheer quantity of student need that gets most of us. 

'Pondering' can be that occasional thought that seeps in or the draining 'brain bug' that  is not willing to let go. It is the type of thinking that invades our personal space as we attempt to reintegrate into family and personal life after a long day or week, ultimately entering our safe havens and tree houses (so to speak).  

I regularly reference with my students the analogy of junior high as a jungle or deserted island filled with many challenges, 'unknowns', and often times of great loneliness. The teachers inhabit this island as well.  I recall watching each week (with great wonder) how the Swiss Family 'Robinson' were able to survive their shipwreck, build a home (here is where the treehouse reference comes in), and thrive in spite of the wild animals, natural dangers of the land, and the glaring uncertainty of what was to come.

So I challenge you to build that treehouse of yours (in both a literal and figurative sense) as a means of breaking the intrusive thought cycle.

* Hold strong to your best practices and professionalism.

* Make time for those real-time getaways to the gym, to the walking trail, or on a well-earned vacation.

* Schedule these get-away times daily.

* Get lost in your favourite book or movie.

* Take a mental health break from work to allow your energies and motivations to replenish.

* Seek out your informal advisors to assist with student strategies or simply to vent.

* Allow time to create emotional support plans that are intentionally designed for your students.

* Be very careful that the pondering does not fester into deeper-rooted anxieties.

* And...visit your local hardware store and pick up your treehouse supplies...your get-away may be in the backyard!

Yours in Integrity...