Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Slice of Life: Re-energizing our Teaching Lives with A Mid-Summer Tune-Up

It's mid-summer! In the past, that phrase used to create a ripple effect in my body. It signaled that the summer was halfway over and I had a short time left to enjoy sunshine days with my school-age children. A little anxiety would set in as thoughts of preparing for back-to-school lessons became the focus. Then, came the administrative summers in which year round work was the norm. 

Speed dial to current times. While it is true that summer is halfway over and there is still much  planning to do for teacher training workshops, I do not feel anxious. The glass half full concept has replaced the glass half empty one. Is it because I am living with a growth mindset? Or is it because I know the value of re-energizing my teaching and learning life? Of course being recently retired from years of service as a reading specialist and districtwide administrator and not having to punch the clock on September 2nd helps with my frame of mind. Retirement does have its perks although the state of unretirement, working with teachers as an ELA consultant, keeps me in the loop and continuing in a field that I love. So for these reasons and an eagerness for a fresh approach to the school year, the mid-summer crunch experience is no longer filled with anxious thoughts. It has become a time period to recharge my teaching life.

Spinning the mid-summer crunch in a different way is something I learned from reading Carol Ann Tomlinson's article in ASCD Architects of Summer. Educators know quite well that summertime is the season to relax, explore passions, and recharge batteries in preparation for a new school year. Tomlinson spoke of this call to re-energize our teaching lives in her article. She described a four-part summer tune-up to summon new possibilities, to renew confidence, enthusiasm, and sense of purpose: 

From Carol Ann Tomlinson's ASCD article, Summer Architects

So, how does this four-part summer tune-up play out in my life?

First of all, I must admit that I have not taken full of advantage of summer yet so now is my time for a mid-summer tune-up. More reading for enjoyment will be part of my menu and of course, the perfect place to do so is at the beach. The amazing, south shore beaches of Long Island allow the rippling waves of the Atlantic Ocean to create the perfect backdrop for relaxation and the recharging of spirits.

Secondly, I challenged myself yesterday to learn something different, how to edit Word Press. Since I am a Blogger fan, switching platforms to add a page to the new #NYEDChat website was quite a learning curve. Frustration was an understatement but the feeling of accomplishment outweighed the angst of not knowing what I was doing. Thanks Carol Ann for helping me understand that a new learning experience can broaden my perspective.

Third, I feel that I am always pushing the boundaries of my practice so I am in agreement with Tomlinson's thought on that matter. Sometimes, though I wish that I did not feel compelled to continually push forward. There is beauty in lingering in the here and now for awhile. This is a goal that I will work on this year. 

Fourth, at the beginning of the summer Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a Pirate, created a GPS challenge for educators: create five words that would steer your course for next year and provide direction for your practice. With these words guiding me, my compass will point me in the right direction. (You can read others' thoughts on Twitter at #summerLS.)

By cvarsalona July 2014 in response to Dave Burgess' 5 Word GPS Challenge

Last night, I popped into Meenoo Rami's #EdThrive chat on Twitter to hear her speak about her new book, Thrive. The driving question was "How can we better thrive as we are preparing one for a new school?" I thought this was quite appropriate for the mid-summer mark. The conversation provided a great starting part for educators. What Meenoo had to say resonated with me with regard to this time of year.


Summer is a great time to seek inspiration and imagine the possibilities...
I am using these precious days to connect with others for ideas, inspiration, etc.
Meenoo Rami

Yes these days are precious and there is still time for all of us to kick back and relax while reflecting on a new approach for the 2014-15 educator's journey. So in closing, I note that summer is my time and yours to reflect and broaden perspectives. May summer's restful and relaxing days, allow us to re-energize our lives for the months to come. 
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