This year I will enter my 26th year as an educator. It is hard to believe. I remember as a new educator looking at teachers with 20+ years of experience and being in awe of their talent and stamina.
I love teaching. I love school. While I love summer, I can never seem to wait to get back and always have found myself creeping back into the building long before my contract began. Whether it was to teach summer school, set up my classroom, or plan for the upcoming year, I couldn’t seem to stay away.
This past summer was a little different. My feelings and passion hadn’t changed, but I was just so tired. Every time I thought about going to school or planning, I just felt a deep exhaustion that seemed to be back behind my eye sockets. I couldn’t focus and get started. It led to some deep guilt. Who was I letting down?
Ultimately, I had to come to the realization that twenty-five years of non-stop “going” had finally caught up with me. I had to give myself permission that taking care of myself WAS taking care of my people. My body and my mind needed rest for me to continue to be able to give my best to my students, staff, and community. I’m now almost two weeks back in, and I am realizing the world did not come crashing down. We are off to a great start and everything will get done.
Of course, it helps that this is my fifth year in the principalship and fifth year at this campus. I was fortunate that no emergencies that needed to be taken care of while I was off-contract. I feel certain that if something urgent had come up, my adrenaline would have kicked back in. What I also realized once my exhaustion started to wane was that maybe, if I did a little more self-care during the year, I might not reach that level physical and mental fatigue.
I think sometimes as educators, our passion creates an adrenaline that allows us to keep going at superhuman rates. Our sense of urgency drives us through the “tired” when most would say “enough”. However, I think we have to find that place where we recognize that rest is critical. Pushing ourselves to this point is not healthy and can certainly lead to bigger issues. Filling our own cups and allowing time for rejuvenation is necessary if we intend to fully pour ourselves into others. Sometimes grit and growth mindset is about finding balance and giving ourselves the grace we so easily give to others. There is a time for work. There is a time for a sense of urgency. But, there is also a time to rest.
I wish all the educators out there the best school year possible as we ready for the return of our students. Just remember: There is a time for work. There is a time for a sense of urgency. But, there is also a time to rest.