The 2019-2020 school year was unprecedented; the arrival of the pandemic caused a lot of educational shifts in the latter portion of the year.
But it felt as if the 2020-2021 year saw its predecessor, said “Hold my beer,” and turned everything on its ear! I speak for many colleagues when I say that too many days this year have felt like a struggle to just make it to the last bell.
Nevertheless, They Persisted
And yet, despite all the challenges, educators across the land rose up to the challenge!
School librarians, in particular, found themselves stepping up to meet the needs of both students and faculty. It’s no surprise that school librarians celebrated their influence. They helped encourage reading. They collaborated with their colleagues. They gave students a safe space. They modelled important concepts like inclusion. They provided resource after resource after resource after resource to engage with important issues and support lessons.
And when doing the usual wasn’t enough, they kicked it up a notch! They dove into advocacy. They created professional development opportunities. And they provided so many lessons and tools to help students and faculty deal with the increase in digital interactions this year.
They Keep Going, and Going, and Going…
The work this year has been draining, both mentally and physically. I am, frankly, in awe of those who are making summer plans involving any of the following:
- More professional development
- Book clubs focused on any sort of educational ideas
- Locating and resetting misplaced items that have “drifted” over the course of the year
- Running summer programs
My first thoughts as I saw such plans start popping up across social media was, “Wow! What is wrong with me? I can’t even consider any of that!”
But after a brief wallow in shame, I realized that we’ve all trod different paths through the twists and turns of this year. My path felt like it was mostly uphill. While I walked it, I was repeatedly handed increasingly heavy sets of expectations and requirements. Having reached the end point, it’s perfectly fine–indeed, it’s logical–to feel exhausted.
“No more pencils, no more books…”
My summer plans involve staying as far from school as is possible, both mentally and physically. I foresee many “just for me” books (probably with swears! and adult situations!), plenty of vegetating, and a big dose of getting away from a desk and out doing something in the world.
I share these “plans” in the hopes that they inspire others to do the same. The word “recreation” has a root in letting go of everything and creating ourselves anew. Summer vacation doesn’t need to include exotic locales, or even any travel. It just requires vacating our usual situations. This allows us to reset and recalibrate.
In fact, recreation and vacation are professional development! We can’t continue to be effective educators if we don’t step away for a while. It gives us time to recharge our batteries. And it gives us a chance to see what we do with fresh eyes.
This past year has pushed a lot of people to–and perhaps beyond–their breaking points. I hope all of my colleagues take time during their summer breaks for themselves. Because as the flight attendants always remind us, we can’t help others if we don’t make sure we’re okay first.
Author: Steve Tetreault
Steve has been teaching for over 20 years, mostly middle school English Language Arts. He has earned an M.Ed. (2006) and an Ed.D. (2014) in Educational Administration and Supervision, and completed an M.I. degree in Library and Information Science (2019). He is certified as a teacher, school library media specialist, supervisor, and administrator. He is an old dog constantly learning new tricks!