It has been a whirlwind since staff returned to school on August 1st. I started back myself on July 25th. Summer was at an end…and truth be told, it was an interesting summer for me. Usually, I spend summer continually learning and keeping up with professional development. I’ll read, research, tweet, and attend conferences or trainings. This summer, I did not. In fact, I did not do a thing that was related to education, and it was probably the best decision I made.
By the end of last school year, there were things occurring that made me unhappy. I disagreed with them (and still do). At the time, I was pretty angry. I also wasn’t feeling motivated to do anything. It took some time before I realized I was burning out, and fast. I was losing my desire and passion, and the last thing I wanted to do was work on continually learning through the summer. I had just ended year 9 of my educational career, so I suppose it’s good that it took that long before I started feeling the burnout creeping up on me.
I decided that I needed to cut myself off from everything related to education and learning for the summer. I would instead focus on the things that made me happiest and let me refuel my “spirit tank” so to speak. I rationed that by stepping away and taking a break, I would come back to work feeling more energized and ready to begin anew. I focused on my favorite hobbies instead. I bought a Nintendo Switch and played video games, mostly Splatoon 2. I focused on my rock kindness project and painted a lot of rocks to be sealed and hidden. I spent time journaling and working through my thoughts. There was even a 2-week visit to see my wife while she worked on an active duty assignment for the military.
When I returned on July 25, I felt so much better and ready to create new projects and provide assistance to my teachers. My passion came right back to me, and I felt energized for the new year. That energy has carried me forward and stayed with me. My current ITRT assignment is larger than last year, but my big goal is to do my best by my teachers because they are the ones who need me the most.
Having now been on the “other side”, I see why some teachers step away from anything education during the summer months and avoid anything related to work until they return to school for the new year. It’s hard to find joy and motivation when your battery is running on empty. Sometimes it takes that drastic step to step away from work and focus on one’s self. It may seem counterproductive, but it does work. Space gives time to think and work through issues and do the things that are most enjoyable.
Now that the school year has started, I plan to keep an eye on my own self and keep a check on any flare-ups of my burnout. That’s when I know to step away, recharge my energy, and then come back ready to go. It’s the only way I can be my best educator self and work at my highest levels for my staff.