Today I was asked the question, “What do I need for my own well being?” I was slightly distracted when I was asked to answer the question, so I found myself roaming the room, listening to others, reading their ideas. On the way home, the question lingered in my mind.
Personally, I know what works for me to keep me feeling good and ready for each day. Getting up early, starting my day slowly often sets me on the right path. Physical exercise is an essential part of my day. When my kids were little, I started running in the wee hours of the morning before they got up. Years later, greeting the morning with physical exercise remains part of my practice. Having homemade healthy food, chocolate, a few skittles and dinner around the table all add to my general well being. Practicing my faith and living each day with a dose of thankfulness all feed my well being. Now, as I read that over, it sounds like it’s all perfect, but the truth is, it’s not. But when it comes down to it, I know what I need to fuel my well being and I do the work to get pieces of it every day.
Professionally, I also know what works for me to keep me feeling good and ready. I’ve been at this work called teaching for almost three decades. It’s the people that I spend my days with that fuel my well being. It’s the kids who come to school ready, or not, to learn. It’s those kids who expect us to be there for them, who expect us to know them, support them, find the right ways to teach them. Reaching and learning for them fuels me. It’s the adults, teachers, paraprofessionals, admins, parents that also can fuel my well being (they can zap it, too). It’s being creative and innovative and silly with these people that make our work real and alive. It’s the relationships that I work to have with all these people that make know I am connected and ready to not only continue teaching, but learning for another decade.
One of my all time favorite books (professionally) is The Teacher You Want to Be, Essays about Children, Learning and Teaching. Heidi Mills and Tim O’Keefe, in their essay, Why Beliefs Matter, write “If we are deliberately growing and changing as professionals, our cutting edge beliefs are often ahead of our practices. We grow new beliefs and then strive to live into them.”
So professionally, I think what fuels my well being is continued opportunities to keep outgrowing my own beliefs. I’m willing to put in the work alongside the kids, my colleagues, parents, all in the name of not just teaching, but learning and growing together always.