Yesterday I took the day off from technology. The thought was to be free from 7:00am to 7:00pm. So I took off walking around town and enjoying coffee and to finish a great book. Then around 2:30pm I had a feeling that I was missing something. I became weak and got on my tab to find an email from my principal. So all in all, it was great to get away, but also great to take care of a couple of things.
The book that I finished I had started on Monday. Teaching Matters: Motivating and Inspiring Yourself by Todd and Beth Whitaker is a short excellent book. My original plan was to read it all in one day, but I ended up taking two. (I didn’t read on Tuesday) I grabbed a highlighter and pen and was writing inside the book and marking many great thoughts for the upcoming year.
The first big point I read was, “You are truly among the most influential people on earth. Yet, feeling like we are truly that critical is a great challenge.”(p3) I have to agree with this point. Right now education is being looked down on and as a joke at times. However, students are with us more hours in the day then they are with their families, thus making us very influential on students. That is a huge task to take a hold! Also, I enjoyed how the Whitakers defined a teacher as someone that kids see. Any and all adults are teachers, just not the adults in a school setting.
Todd and Beth also are big advocates of teachers being positive and happy. A mantra that I am taking from this book to use for the year is, “Raise the Praise, Minimize and Criticize”. I think about all the trials I will face this year. There will be many times that I will want to complain, but I’m going to try my best not to. The Whitakers gave some great advice to help stay happy and positive. Find positive people, laugh, be with friends, and find time for family. (p28) I feel those are very important words to help with that.
Yesterday I read a chapter about conventions, retreats, and learning for ourselves. I have been to many conferences this past year where I have made many great connections with teachers. I want to continue to do so. However, there are times that when I leave them I am really overwhelmed with what I learned. In Teaching Matters they mention having an individual retreat. (p56)
I find this a great idea. Yesterday I didn’t have a phone, tab, anything to connect me to the world. I was alone at a coffee shop with two books. I enjoyed the day so much. I was able to decompress and focus on getting ready for the upcoming school year. This year, I will take outings to be alone and unconnected to help me stay focused. As Todd and Beth suggested, you don’t have to leave town, but get out of your home and school so there are no normal distractions to keep you from staying focused on YOU.
I really enjoyed this book and will be taking many things from it. I found this book when I ordered What Great Teachers Do Differently which is also by Todd Whitaker. There are some things that were repeated in this book, but I found that very beneficial. It’s like re-watching a movie or listening to a speaker you have heard before. You take different things in, and also remember things you may have forgotten. (Teaching46)
I suggest that you pick up one, or both of these books and take a personal retreat (can be on a weekend) and read one of these. They are both short, but full of great information to help you refocus and get back into school with great ideas.