10 Weeks In

The week before break. Nothing prepares you for the week before a break. Not your graduate or undergraduate courses, not attending in-service learning, nor engaging in webinars. You run on adrenaline, navigating in and out of exhaustion, trying your best to maintain normalcy and being fully present for your scholars, teachers, staff and parents.

We have to pause and remember that our scholars are going to default to behaviors we have not seen in some time or ever seen at all. We have to acknowledge that we, that school is their safe place. Many of our scholars come from broken homes where there may or may not be structure. A break from school, kicks them out of their daily routine, and away from their safe place.

So, as the days and minutes tick down to the final bell, the excitement and energy in classrooms and schools intensifies. Scholars’ attention wanders away from instruction. They hear their teacher, but they are not listening. They are distracted and lose focus on their classwork. Disruptions, distractions, interruptions and discipline problems rise as they get more amped up for vacation.

Teachers and staff are anxious and also feel this energy. Our attention wanders as we think about everything that needs to be done before we leave for vacation. We default to a fixed mindset and forget to be patient, fail to understand what might be causing the disruptive behaviors. It’s hard to be fully present with report card windows closing, feeling pressure to provide accurate comments and grades that reflect the work each scholar has done. It’s hard not let our thoughts wander when sitting in parent conferences or staff meetings, trying hard to stay in the moment and not get lost thinking about testing, IEP meetings, accommodations, new district initiatives, observations and evaluations, thinking I should be further along in the curriculum than I really am. Or thinking, I can’t wait until Friday when my scholars leave. Should I throw everything in my bag and head out the door right after them? Should I stay and straighten up my room? It’s hard to pause and stop the noise and be fully present.

While I was spinning in my thoughts and worrying about things that may or may not be in my circle of control, I came across this article One Month Down, Ten Links to Go from Arizona K-12 Center’s Homeroom. The resources provide practical approaches to reset and refocus.

How do you stay fully present in your class or school the week before a vacation?


Jen Robinson

Jen Robinson

Maricopa, Arizona

Hello, my name is Jen Robinson. I have been in education for over 20 years. I began teaching in Buffalo, NY in 1992, as a pre-school special education teacher. My experience ranges from primary grades through high school. My husband and I moved to Arizona in 2001, where we were fortunate enough to teach at the same school. In 2004, I achieved National Board Certification and currently support candidates. In 2011 I completed my Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation. My dissertation research focused on supporting National Board candidates through their certification process. During the 2012-2013 school year, I completed my National Board renewal process. It was humbling and very powerful to step back into a classroom. I am currently an elementary principal. I am excited and hopeful for the new school year. I also serve on the Arizona Teacher Solutions Team where we are solutions focused in an effort to transform and elevate the teaching profession.

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