Taking a Break from Screens- 6/1/2020

Working from home during the past few months has definitely been an interesting experience. On one hand, I have loved getting to not only know my staff better but the opportunity to work with them in new ways. But like most of us, I have found myself spending more time working than ever. My office is a short walk down the hall from my bedroom and my computer is always there, waiting for me. Even when I try to go on the computer for things not related to work, it is definitely difficult to keep things separate.

Beyond just working, I am spending more time than ever looking at a computer screen. My days used to be filled with other activities such as walking around classrooms, helping out around the school and more. But now, I spend the majority of my days looking at a screen. Like most educators, it is completely exhausting in a way that I could have never anticipated.

This exhaustion has been pervasive. Activities that I usually enjoy like participating in Twitter chats have become another time to sit and look at a screen. By this past Friday, I knew that I needed to do something different. As much as I love using technology, I needed to take a break from screens.

To some of you, this might not seem like a big deal. But for me, it was. Usually, I spend my Saturday mornings connecting to others on a screen. I wake up and join my 8 AM WW meeting on a Zoom call. Afterwards, I participate in the pd4uandme chat at 8:30 AM. After taking a break to walk the dog, I usually finish out my morning with the crazyPLN chat at 10 AM and leadlap at 10:30 AM. I love this routine and all of the connections that I have made through them, but this past weekend, I made a conscious decision not to participate.

It was hard in many ways. I missed my usual connections but instead sought out face to face connection instead. Living in Northern Virginia, we have just entered Phase 1 of reopening. For the first time in months, my kids went to spend the weekend with their dad, and my husband and I found ourselves "empty nesters".

We spend every day together as "office mates," but this weekend was different. We both kept our laptops closed. We enjoyed walks with our dog, made reservations and enjoyed two lunches outdoors, one at a local restaurant and one at a nearby vineyard. Instead of wearing my usual tee shirt and comfy pants, I got "dressed up" and wore skirt one day and a dress the other. It might not seem like much, but it was totally needed. It was indeed a breath of fresh air.

As educators, we are committed to doing what's best for our students. In fact, I firmly believe during the past few months, educators have worked more than ever before. We have tried new things, taken risks, and given our all to our students. We have proven that our dedication is not based on test scores or mandates, but based on our belief that all of our students can learn and will learn. But it is easy to get tunnel vision, sometimes, we need to take a break from it all- just for a day or two. These breaks help us return to our passion renewed and ready to give all that we can.