This I know

Our pasts aren’t perfect
Languages evolve
Science identifies patterns
Leading to conclusions
Numbers commingling
Can lead to
Infinite possibilities
Opinions aren’t facts
Nor are they all
Equally valid
Bias can stunt growth
Equity is not
Socialism nor communism

We can’t learn
If we won’t listen
Closed minds
Don’t have enough
Room to grow

Check out additional poems here: Mandating Mundane, Moniker, Test Test.

Beware of Burnout

Photo by Yan on

Last fall, pre-pandemic, I wrote a blog post asking why I come home so tired after a day of teaching. I was hoping to get some answers from other teachers to avoid burnout. Of course, I need to figure out a better way to build an online audience and engage everyone in discussing ideas. That, however, can be a topic of another day.

Fast forward 11 months, and the teaching profession faces a far-more critical crisis. We are in danger of collectively burning out within the first months of the new academic year. Labor Day weekend, for example, I read a friend’s social media post. She awoke at 4:00 a.m. resigned to spending her holiday weekend grading papers, creating video content for the upcoming week, and recording personalized feedback for her IB students. I applaud the dedication, but I worry about her emotional and physical well-being.

“Remember to take care of yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup.” —Unknown

Teaching is a noble profession, but why are willingly sacrifice our personal lives for it?

We need to reclaim our lives. The first step is to take all weekends off. Completely. Do things that make you happy. Blogging, for example is a hobby that I have sacrificed for my job. I am finding renewed energy when I write.

I have had some good Me Time so far this weekend. I woke up early and took a quiet walk through the neighborhood. I sat on my porch and read while waiting for today’s sunrise. I will enjoy this weekend, and I will not allow myself to feel guilty for leaving my lesson planning and grading at school.

We are in the education for the students, but we are also creating bad working conditions for ourselves. Resentment creeps deeper into teacher conversations. Colleagues are stressed out, and I worry about what will happen when they break. We will not be available for our students if we continue in this dangerous direction. It needs to stop. 

How we can collectively look out for one another? How are you avoiding burnout? How do you balance your teacher life and your personal life? Post your comments. I want to hear from you.

Check out some of my poetry about similar topics: Frayed and Fatigued, Receptacle, House cleaning.

Seeking Golden Moments

My colleagues and I recently finished our first full week of collaborating and planning for the upcoming school year. As I left home each morning, I exited the neighborhood and headed west for school. I would occasionally glance in the rearview mirror to witness sky-filled splashes of copper, lavender, crimson, and blue as the sun began to peek over the majestic mountain range to the east.

It’s a shame that we miss out on so many sunrises throughout the school year. We rush to school when it’s dark. The first lessons of the day begin even before the sun appears, and far too many sleepy eyes are struggling to stay alert. Our busy schedules force us to miss one of the day’s most brilliant moments.

I made a midweek commitment to take time for sunrises. Today, I fulfilled that personal promise. I exited my neighborhood onto that same road I drive daily to a park located on a high point on the west side of the valley. A crew of masked cross country athletes were stretching before a morning run in the distance as I searched for a secluded east-facing bench to begin my new morning ritual.

A refreshing draft carried the muffled voices of athletes through the faint campfire-scented air as they collectively counted down their pre-run stretches. I found a secluded bench to sit and wait for the day’s smoky-salmon sun to surface. 

Far too often, the west’s most spectacular sunrises and sunsets are caused by wildfires. The smoke in the air was that day’s proof. Mother Earth, however, knows how to create calm amidst chaos. 

While school start times remain beyond control for most teachers, we should seek golden moments for our students. Think about what it would mean as science, art, history, or English teachers to face east with our students for a few minutes in the morning. We could study the juxtaposition of destruction and creation, learn about the science of colors and light, or measure the angles of shadows in relation to the sun’s position in the sky.

This theory is still percolating in my mind, but I believe carefully-planned golden moments to start the day could transform education. What better way could we introduce mindfulness to our students? I am going to test out my theory this year. Who’s with me?

If you are a teacher and have ideas on how we can create golden moments and build mindfulness in ourselves and our students. Feel free to share your thoughts here.