Reflections of the School Year
My theme for the school year was self-care. I knew going in it is what I needed to be there for the kids. I truly thought I had a handle on it.
Last year, of course, we ended the school year virtually… I will never forget that day we left, March 12, 2020, not knowing when we would return. It felt like a Sci-Fi movie. September of 2020 we were able to start the in-person return for Elementary School. Numerous new protocols were adhere to. It was very surreal to think about all the things we had to modify to keep all of us safe. There were tons of PPE supplies that each classroom received, we had tape in the hallways for one way arrows, bi-fold windows between the desks and had to measure to make sure there were 6 feet spaces. Kids walked to their classroom around the outside of the building. There was so much planning that went into this and it was all driven by a focus on everyone’s safety.
Yet all of it was very isolating and separating.
During our Covid quarantine I started meditating every morning before work.
I liked Deepak Chopra 21 day meditations. They were free during the initial launch. If one really resonated with me, I purchased it so I could keep it rotating with those I used. I would write in my Gratitude Journal right after I meditated. I tried to go to bed early enough each night, so I was well rested for the next day. I tried to eat as healthy as I could. Though I did give into sugar cravings at times, I stopped watching TV an hour before bed.
It was still not enough – the stress was high. Not seeing my friends as often, not having the usual stress relievers that I had relied on in years past and so many fun events being canceled. I found myself struggling to keep my energy up. I did have emotional support when I needed it including therapy via Zoom, but yet it all felt so isolating.
As teachers and kids returned to the classroom in Fall of 2020, I was eager to be back. I would go to work and try to be present for all the kids and the teachers I was supporting. Day after day, I kept up with everything, until finally I felt like I was running out of energy to give anymore. I was eating lunch in my car every day to have some quiet time before returning to the classroom.
As this school year came to an end, I was full of tears at the oddest times. The school was my community through all of this. I was so grateful I had somewhere to be each day for work (rather than staying home on a computer), and being of service doing something meaningful.
Our staff is amazing, and I have always felt like the atmosphere at our school was family orientated. I will miss them over the summer. The 5th graders got a modified version of our “clap out” sending them off to Middle School. We did a car parade for them with staff lining the drive and cheering for them. I was cheering each of them on with gusto pulled from my reserves. And then the tears came.
I remember some of them when they first came to our school. They are starting a new chapter. Endings and beginnings. The Kindergarteners this year had nothing else to compare their experience to, but I felt sad for them. They had to endure a school year so different than usual. I was tired of saying, “please pull your mask up” or “stay at your own desk”, and “you’re too close back up”. At recess their times were staggered to ensure separation. Kids love to be with the other kids. Some days I would be out there looking around marveling at how they adapted. Other days I would be spending the entire recess trying to help them all get along.
Our last day was a bit rushed and I felt I wasn’t in the calm space I wanted to be in for our goodbyes.
I have to admit now that the school year is over - I feel old, tired and pretty worn out. There were days I felt like I was fully present and happy to be there and truly was at my best. I feel like there were days where I could have done better. There were days where I really didn’t want to be there. There were days that I knew I needed more and watched myself in a pattern of not taking enough time for myself to rejuvenate. Emotions were exaggerated for me. Grief has many stages. There were lots of losses for many of us.
Through this school year, I see the importance of self-care in a new light. I am left with a myriad of emotions - but the greatest: Grateful that I have time this summer to reconnect to myself.
Wishing you all summer moments of connection and self-care too.