Jul 8 • 6M

On Reflection

Whether it's time at the beach, being inspired by a good book, or catching a ball game, reflection is a great way to recharge your batteries.

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Hi, Y’all! 

I’m back from vacation this week.  

I spent two weeks with family and friends. It was glorious and we made a ton of fantastic memories. 

Time at the beach, relaxing by the pool, going for long runs, catching a ball game, and celebrating the Fourth of July with food and fireworks.  It was a blast (no pun intended). 

And now back to reality. 

As an educator, summer has always been a time for me to reflect on the previous school year and think about what worked and didn’t work. And also, to dream about what is possible for the next school year. Even though I’m no longer in the classroom, reflection is still part of my summer routine and I had a lot of time to think over the last two weeks and examine the last 12 months.  

I’m coming up on my two-year anniversary as the Director of Communications for MCIE, and I’ve thought deeply about how I want to improve and how MCIE can support more districts transform their practices to be more inclusive for each and every learner. 

Schools have been through the wringer and the need for schools to restructure how they deliver services has never been as important. Not only how they support learners, but also how they support their teachers.  

Educators are stressed out and morale is at the lowest point I’ve ever seen. According to the largest teacher’s union in Florida, there are over 9000 teacher + school staff vacancies for the upcoming school year.  

The situation seems bleak. And I’m not here to sugarcoat anything or tell you that all you need is self-care.  

But it is not all doom and gloom. I came across a great video from Edutopia called 4 Steps to Help Teachers Reset This Summer. Check it out when you get the chance. 

Here is the gist and it goes back to what I started with.  

Reflection is a key component of professional growth for educators. It was what I was taught in my earliest teacher education courses. And if you were trained as a teacher, how many times were you required to write a reflection to the article that you read or the video that you watched.  

Reflection as a way to recharge your batteries is the equivalent of deep breathing for reducing anxiety. It seems like such an obvious idea that it is often overlooked or downplayed.  

Seriously. Research has shown that deep breathing can have immediate effects by altering the pH of the blood, or changing blood pressure. And can be used as a way to train the body's reaction to stressful situations. (NPR

And while it seems cliché, Edutopia is right when they suggest that carving out time to reflect on the previous school year can set you up for success when it’s time to head back into the classroom or district office. 

Here are some specific strategies adapted from the Edutopia video that could be helpful. 

Try visualizing what your classroom or workspace could look like. Reflect on the projects that you would love to work on with learners when you start the school year. And think about how can you make your classroom and school more inclusive. 

Trying writing things down in a journal or on sticky notes in response to questions like “How have I grown as an educator or a person this year?” Or “How can I foster inclusive practices in my school next year?”  

Do you have a colleague that you can share your reflections with? Maybe spend some time with one or two people from your school to dream about what next year could be like. What if you found colleagues in your district who wanted to meet regularly about moving your school or district toward a more inclusive model? 

And finally, think about the high points of the school year. Do you have anything that would go in your “Smile File”? Document them somewhere so you can refer to your notes during your preplanning for the school year. 

These are simple ideas, but if you try them, they will be effective. 

I hope you take some time to reflect this summer. And if you do, I’d love to hear about it. You can always email me at tvillegas@mcie.org or go to mcie.org to learn more about how we can partner with you and your school or district. 

Thanks for your time, everyone. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with another edition of The Weeklyish.  

Have a great weekend! 

Tim

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