Kia ora te whanau,
The following is a condensed or adjusted version of what I shared with our staff on their last day. My intention with sharing this with the wider community is the hope that something in here may resonate for all of you.
Thank you all for your commitment and kindness you have displayed to our rangatahi. 2019 has been a very good year where the spirit in the school I believe has been wonderful. To achieve this, it takes the work of the collective and I appreciate all that you have done in your respective spaces, to make this a school that is a genuine community and one where people come first and therefore a place that we can all be proud to work at.
The same can be said for our whanau and wider community and the support that you offer to your students and to us a school.
The break is upon you. Once the last day of school has come and gone please stop, think and recognise what is important now for you. Maybe you can take something from this list that will help you to regenerate.
Recharging during the summer holidays
As teachers/ parents we are notorious for taking care of everyone but ourselves. The summer holiday provides a perfect chance to change that. It’s a good time to answer the question, “Who are we when we’re not teaching?”
- Become the learner instead of the teacher. Learn a language, kickboxing, pottery, bicycle repair. It takes curiosity, perseverance, and humility to learn a new skill. The struggle and excitement of being a novice can deepen our empathy for our students or our own kids, who are asked every day to attempt new and difficult things. A lesson one teacher learned from kickboxing classes was those general exhortations – “Keep it up! Nice going!” – are unhelpful. What novices need is coaching and guidance on the specifics.
- Hyphenate yourself. See yourself as a teacher/mum or dad, a teacher/writer and teacher/hiker, among other identities. Strong outside-of-school interests make teachers more interesting and effective with their students. In fact, my belief is that we should just drop the teacher completely and forget the hyphen.
- Be your full self with your loved ones. Those closest to us can get a depleted version of us during the school week and year. It’s harder to be patient, present, and playful with our own whanau when you may have exhausted those reserves with your students. Hence the importance of the summer holiday when we can relax and give our time and attention to putting yourself and your family first both in terms of priority and available time, to really mean it.
- Join a new iwi/ whanau or two. While there’s an instant bond when teachers meet teachers, wherever they meet, it’s good to hang out with people who have radically different professional lives and experience a different kind of camaraderie.
We can love teaching and it’s also fair to acknowledge that it’s mahi tahi. We all need deep rest and renewal if we’re going to keep doing it well.
So please be kind to yourself over the break and do so with relentless compassion. Don’t think about school and if you start to allow thoughts of school to invade, learn to push those thoughts away. Your mind, body and soul need and deserve a complete break.