When the Going Gets Tough, Try to Reengage: 2/17/2021

As I reflect over the past month, I feel better than ever. During the fall, the combination of getting COVID and exhaustion truly wore me out. I would come home and lose myself in the world of Netflix, unable to do much else. I would wake up every morning tired and not want to get out of bed. I would beat myself up for this behavior, which would create a self perpetuating cycle. So as I shared before, by Winter Break, I needed to reset.

Last month, I read Mandy Froehlich's book, DivergentEDU. In her book, she shares strategies to reengage when you veer towards "burnout." Although I wished I had read this in the fall, her strategies still ring true. They help me keep my cup filled and maybe as you read this, they will help you as well. Knowing in my district, we are getting ready to attempt hybrid learning again next week, I know that I need to keep these strategies front and center.

  1. Reflection

The first strategy Mandy shares is shifting our reflective thinking from focusing on others' actions to what we could have done better. This shift in thinking empowered her. She shared how she realized during this process how blogging was really for her own self reflection. It helped her sort things out.

This rang so true to me. In the fall, my blogging was inconsistent at best. Now, reflecting and growing is a daily part of my day. It is one of the reasons I have been blogging about every 3 days in 2021. I am thrilled when someone else gets something from a post- but like I said in my 8/22/2020 post, blogging is self care for me. Reflecting helps me work through things and focus on my own self growth.

2. Grow your PLN

Mandy also shares how she grew her PLN. She worked diligently to connect with other amazing educators. By doing so, she established relationships with mentors that she could reach out to when she needed it.

In the fall, I was too tired to do Twitter chats at night- so I stopped doing them. During Winter Break, I started to reconnect with my PLN. This started with Twitter chats, but quickly grew. I participated in the 12 Hour Teach Better Live, connected with Darrin Peppard from Road to Awesome on Twitter, and made a concerted effort to grow my PLN. I also became a member of Unison EDU. In January, I joined the Teach Better Administrator Mastermind meetings and Voxer group. I also started participating in more chats. This has been energizing in ways I can't even explain. I love these experiences and they definitely not only fill my bucket, but provide guidance and inspiration.

3. Focus on Relationships

Beyond just online or virtual relationships, Mandy explains that you need to cultivate and nurture relationships. This takes both time and effort. It should come as no surprise that I did not possess the energy for any of this in the fall. All of us are in our own boxes now with social distancing, but that doesn't mean we can't connect. Right now, I am reading Dr. Lori Koerner's Actually I Can, In the chapter, "Relationships Matter," she describes how we have 2 choices when it comes to relationships: accept less than optimal relationships or lead the way to better outcomes. I love how she focused on team building as a way to not only build relationship with her staff, but between her staff. In today's world, I really miss this. It made me consider ways that I could cultivate relationships and build people up more as a tech coach. This is definitely something I want to work more on in 2021- transforming my relationships by giving them more time and effort to nurture them.

4. Read Books

Mandy shares how she began reading books so that she could connect with great thinkers and authors in the education field. In early 2020, reading to learn had been a part of my morning routine. But like everything else, in the fall, that ceased. Starting during Winter Break, I started reading again daily to learn something new. I have been inspired by the work of John Spencer's Empowered at a Distance, Darrin Peppard's Road to Awesome, Dr. Brandon Beck's Unlocking Unlimited Potential , Mandy Froehlich's DivergentED, Jo Boaler's Limitless Mind, Cathy Fyock and Lois Creamer's The Speaker, the Author and Paul Solarz's Learn Like a Pirate and most recently, Lori Koerner's Actually I Can. This reading has not only invigorated me but helped me grow as an educator through reflection.

It is so easy to get overwhelmed in times like these. We continue to face challenges that we could have never imagined a year ago. But we can persevere and thrive, take some time to reengage- remember your why, connect with others who inspire you and remember you are not alone.