Yesterday my daughter took me to breakfast so we could celebrate Mother’s Day. Just the two of us. Alone.
Don’t get me wrong, we love the rest of our clan. Getting to eat alone and chatter away about anything and everything, though, was the best gift this momma could have received.
Before we left, Paige asked, “Mom, what do you need in your life right now?”
I couldn’t answer right away. I was struck by the fact that rarely has anyone ask me that. And, I wasn’t able to quickly give an answer because it required a moment, a serious moment, of reflection before I could say what I felt I really needed.
Do we ever ask ourselves that question as teachers and educators? I know I don’t.
A million times a day, I ask myself, “OK, what has to be done now?” and then I click on my calendar in Outlook or look at the stack of post-it notes on my desk where I find my list of urgent tasks for that day. And then I’m off to do that thing. And then the next thing.
And all the next things ever there were.
What in the world would happen if, at some point, in every coaching session with teachers I ask that same simple question?
“What do you need in your life right now?”
And I’d be OK with an answer about their professional life or their personal life. Two things happened when my daughter asked me what I needed—I felt incredibly loved and then I was surprised at how genuinely I was able to reflect in just a few short minutes.
This time of year teachers everywhere are worn thin from ten months of giving their heart and soul to children that are not biologically their own. They’ve planned and agonized, taught and assessed. They’ve sat through interminable trainings and agonizing data meetings. They’ve called parents, averaged grades, completed mountains of paperwork, composed emails and attended grade-level strategy sessions. They’ve been elated, disappointed, disrespected, proud, anxious, relieved, irritated, overworked, under-appreciated and validated. Sometimes all on the same day.
Reflecting on what they need might just allow teachers to realize they can:
- Read more
- Ask for assistance
- Extend more grace (to themselves and their students)
- Change their practice
- Celebrate all they already do
- Look for even the tiniest moments of joy in their day
- Learn more about the “littles” they serve
- Take a break (and then another break, just to be safe)
So many more things could be included on this list. And should be.
I’m adding this question to my coaching resources repertoire. I’m also going to make sure I use this profound little query often to help me reflect.
My daughter listens to Zen Parenting Radio and months ago encouraged me to begin listening to their podcasts. Cathy Cassani Adams and her husband, Todd Adams produce compelling podcasts that “inspire insight with stories, and humor”. They begin each podcast with–
“The best predictor of a child’s well-being is a parent’s self-understanding”
That’s a beautiful motto for a parenting podcast, but it’s also apropos for teachers. It’s unbelievably important for educators to be self-reflective which helps to ensure that kids receive the very best they are able to give.
Are you a teacher?
Give yourself the gift of asking what you need in your life right now. Honest reflection and a commitment to make it happen will help you make it through these last harrowing weeks.
Do you know a teacher?
Award them the luxury of a few minutes of thoughtful reflection and once they answer do your absolute best to get them what they need so they disembark in June somewhat healthy and happy.