06/13/2021 / Education

Thinking Deeply and Moving Forward

I feel pretty confident in writing that as educators, the last month of the school, whether it is May or June, ignites a sense of anticipation as the end of the year draws near.  Students have that sixth sense of the impending mantra “school’s out for summer” and teachers are caught in the flurry of reporting final grades, building class lists for the next year, and packing up their classrooms. Feelings run high for us as teachers  between the desire to “be done” and the feeling of melancholy watching your “class family” spread their wings and fly toward their next chapter.  We have opened our hearts and invested in our students, hoping that we’ve done our best to help  guide them on their educational pathways to success. 
There are things as educators that we consider for our students throughout the school year, such as: 

  1. Where are they as learners? 
  • How are they feeling about school, their life, themselves? 
  • What ways can we encourage self advocacy, confidence, and the desire to always be their best- even when life may seem tough. 
  • Modeling the character traits of compassion and kindness
  • Helping them realize they need to be the  friend they’d like to have.
  • The ability to give themselves grace and the knowledge that tomorrow is always a fresh start. 

So, here is where I am going to flip my thoughts and share with you what I’ve been wondering lately. What if we as teachers reflected back on all the ways we look to nurture and watch over our students and applied these areas to ourselves? Yep,  I just heard the brakes screeching in many readers' minds. We just aren’t used to taking these mindful moments to give consideration to ourselves, right? 

This is what I’ve done, and I hope you’ll consider this activity too. Take a second look at what I’ve listed above. While I know this can be considered a “short list” and much more could be added, apply each consideration/question to yourself. Trust me when I say it is not easy to flip these around. Some are easier than others, but each in their own way creates time to  pause. 

In preparation for this activity, I decided to start a new notebook. However, once in the store I was drawn to a  bullet journal. I wanted to have the ability to sketch or write out my thoughts, in any manner they were coming to me, so the dots on the pages gave me a sense of creativity.  I also purchased a new set of colorful Flair pens, you know- the kind that won’t bleed through the page, to help inspire me to tap into my deepest thoughts. 
Next, I took my journal and dedicated two full pages, front and back, to each consideration/question. I chose to use a few pages knowing I will revisit these areas more than once. Then, I titled each page using the bullets from the list, and began my deep dive into my thoughts.  

Considering where I am as a learner sends my mind in many directions. I immediately thought about what I am reading, writing, or want to explore over the summer, etc. As my thoughts spilled onto the page, it  now looks more like a “mind map”, but that’s okay. To be honest, after attempting some of the other areas on the list, this question is the easiest of them all, and I keep going back to add more. 

Exploring  feelings about school, life, confidence, and the desire to always be your best even when life is tough, is very eye opening, as well as cathartic. Below I share a few “ah ha” moments that I’ve experienced as examples of how enlightening this activity can be in releasing thoughts such as: 

  • * how much I hold in to be strong for others; protecting my vulnerable side
  • * key values spilling out in all areas
  • * beliefs I hold such as honesty, being kind yet direct
  • *speaking up and advocating for ...others. hmmm?

Please note that this is not a quick activity, and taking small time periods to consider each thought is best. My wish for you is the last bullet on the list- give yourself the grace and knowledge that tomorrow is always a fresh start. My only regret is that I didn't take the time to do this deep dive into myself sooner. I hope that you find the time to reflect, relax, release, and rejuvenate. 

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Kathleen Palmieri

Kathleen Palmieri is a National Board Certified Teacher, a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Learning Facilitator, and a fifth grade educator in upstate New York. She reviews professional texts and is an educator researcher and writer. As a writer with a passion for pedagogy, Kathleen's focus is on education practices, and strategies, as well as her own experiences as an educator. Educator well being is a priority, thus the name "Mindful Teaching Moments". Mindfulness along with knowledge is important. She has presented at math conferences, writing workshops, actively collaborates in literacy projects, and networks globally.