I can’t believe it is already May. I am not sure where April went, but I seem to remember falling into bed exhausted sometime in the middle of yet another snow storm in March; I woke up and it is now suddenly May. After a very long and harsh winter that never seemed to end, the air is finally warmer, the grass is greener, and the sunlight wakes me up before the alarm clock. I can’t believe the end of the school year is approaching so quickly; I am not ready for it, as there is still so much more I wanted to do!
At the same time, I am completely, and utterly exhausted, and frankly, ready for a break. Last month, my World Language sister-teacher Lisa Urso (@MllesrtaUrso) posted the following to social media. While our own individual circumstances might differ, I think we can all relate to the sentiment it evokes.
Well-meaning people: “Lisa, how are you?”
Me (thinking silently): How am I, you say? Well, grades are due soon, yearbook is on deadline, my house and my desk resemble an episode of Hoarders, I’ve been staying at work ‘til 6 every night, I’m behind on most things work-related, I’ve got anxiety about changes coming next year, and you ask how am I? HOW AM I?!?!
Me (responding verbally to whoever queries):
We are overwhelmed with the work we need to do before the year ends, and short on energy and patience. The fact that our students are also hit with spring fever, and exhausted themselves, does not make things any easier. CT COLT recently published an article I wrote for their newsletter on classroom strategies for when spring fever hits. Click on the image below to read the article. I also encourage you to read the entire newsletter here.
While in this article I laid out strategies I use for managing my classroom and ensuring that my students are engaged when Spring Fever hits, I forgot the other, equally important piece, our own well-being. We all know that self-care is important, things like walks in the fresh air, healthy food, lots of rest, and doing things we enjoy. However, I recently had another revelation about what helps me to stay upbeat and positive, even when my students and I are exhausted: connecting with my World Language teacher family/community. A couple of weeks ago I made this video, which speaks to value of joining World Language professional organizations.
I realized today that this video does not quite capture how truly special it is to commune with other World Language teachers, particularly at those times when I am feeling most exhausted. On Saturday, May 5, I could have slept in, I could have gone for an early morning run, I could have gotten a head start on grocery shopping and other weekend chores, or done some planning for the coming week. Instead, I got up at the same time as any other school day and drove almost an hour to attend an EdCamp with World Language colleagues. As tired as I was, I was genuinely looking forward to it. I left feeling supported and refreshed. It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, what my energy level is, or what is going on in my personal life; connecting with people who understand my passion for what I do every day, and what the struggles are, is truly invigorating. I leave with new ideas, validation of things I was unsure about, and the general feeling that there are other people out there who get me. Our teaching certificates might all say something different, but we all speak the same language as educators of language and cultural competency.
Building this sense of community can sometimes be challenging, particularly for those of us who teach in FLES programs, where we are the only, or perhaps one of just a couple of World Language teachers in the building. If you, like me, are one of those teachers, I urge you to get involved in local, regional, and national World Language associations, and attend their conferences. Follow the organizations on Twitter or Facebook to network with other colleagues and learn about opportunities to collaborate. If you are interested in joining the network of K-8 World Language teachers in eastern Connecticut that I am developing, send me an email to raubrey at ashfordct.org.
Now try to get outside and go for a little walk or to soak up some warm sunshine!