For educators, summer can be a great time to reflect. It can also be a great time to go to the bathroom whenever you want to, to take a breath, and to maybe actually read a book for pleasure. It seems that, when we are in the heat of the moment (or, for teachers, all year), we barely have time to think a year ahead of time, or even a month or even a week ahead of time sometimes.
I know I felt that way many times as a teacher and as a school administrator, and yet we are expected to do exactly that----think ahead about what we will be teaching in the next couple of weeks, what numbers we are projecting for our school budgets, etc. Staying in the moment seems to be a luxury. I have always had a difficult time staying in the moment. I always joke that, while my favorite Bible verse is "Be still, and know that I am God", I also struggle with it. I have no problem at all with knowing that He is God, but I do have issues with the being still part. I feel I have to be doing something all the time, and I struggle with slowing down. My dear spiritual advisor has her work cut out for her, as she is trying to teach me to meditate. I happen to be pretty good at getting down on my knees every single morning to ask God to direct my thinking and align my will with His for the day. But once I am off my knees, I truly struggle with getting still enough to meditate. I have a mantra I use, I have a spot in which I can get still, I just can't seem to find the ability to truly "get still".
Why is this skill so important? For me, I believe that in order to be able to discern what our next steps in life are going to be, Dave and I need to be able to truly stay in the moment and talk rationally about choices we are going to make. I have been so very blessed with some pretty amazing career paths and choices in my life. Before I graduated from college, I was hired to teach at the very school where I had student-taught. What a win-win! A couple of years later, I was able to shift gears a little bit and bring a brand new initiative called "inclusion" (am I dating myself? I guess so) to a school in the Dallas area. That turned out to be a pretty big win-win, and I happened to meet and fall in love with Dave during that time. Shortly after we married, we moved to New Mexico, where I had the unique opportunity to get my M.A. in Counseling and Educational Psychology. I was privileged to be able to do internships at a local "Children in Need of Services" organization and at a high school where I did career counseling. My career as a guidance counselor came in handy when Dave and I moved to Florida, as I got the opportunity to work with one of my favorite principals ever at a middle school, then two summers later, a guidance counselor position came open at the closest elementary school to our house. Blessings all over the place. After believing that being an elementary school counselor must be the best job in the entire world, I was introduced to a unique opportunity to become a principal at that same elementary school. While I still say, "I never thought I had the desire to be principal at A school, but I sure jumped at the chance to interview to become the principal at THIS elementary school." Those 7 years were so perfect in so many ways. At one point, though, Dave and I looked at each other and said, "If we don't leave and try something different now, we may stay here forever" (which, by the way, would not have been a hardship by any means, but we still had the opportunity to do something different). Moving to Tucson gave Dave the last three years of work before he was able to retire early, and I became a consultant, working with the best teacher growth model I have ever been a part of, the Danielson Framework for Teaching. That was almost seven years ago. I have met some of the most amazing, talented, dedicated, and wisdom-filled teachers and school leaders who have taught me so much about myself and about teaching, in general. I now have my doctorate, I teach master's and doctoral level courses, and I travel the world working with schools, districts, and universities who all want to improve teacher growth.
Who knows what is next? There might be something new right around the corner...I don't know. All I know is that I am going to continue to pray for God to direct my thinking, allow Him to help Dave and me discern what is the next step for us, and somehow, some way find a way to learn how to meditate.
What about you? What are your hopes and dreams? Which of them have you accomplished? What is your next step? How do you stay in the moment while also planning for the future?
I pray for each and every one of you!!