Starting Anew, Finding Some Headspace

The beginning of a new semester offers so many promises. I have always loved that first day back, the professional development day where smart administrators have set aside loads of planning time. I usually spend the first chunk of that in organization mode. I create calendar events in Google Calendar for every single class and I start planning out the semester's narrative:

  • Where does the class start?
  • Where does it end?
  • What are the milestones along the way?

Using Google Calendar in this way helps me understand what's coming up each week, but it also helps me to think about the narrative arc of my classes. (Hm. I'm thinking I might need to post more fully on this later down the road...)

But not all of us are ready to go back. While many of us are coming off of winter breaks where we had the opportunity to rest and recharge, this is not the case for all of our colleagues. Some have had enormous personal challenges; others have spent much of their vacation in worry mode as they contemplate (with some kind of dread or doom) the reopening of school in January. (See "How I Hold It Together" below for some ideas there, friends.)

Even if you fall into the camp that's had a relaxing break, we all need to be aware of what we are stepping back into. Simply because the calendar has turned to a new year does not mean that the situation in our schools have changed. The news this past month was filled with stories about teacher shortages and teacher anxieties. Here's a couple of examples:

‘Teachers are drowning’ as they deal with students acting out, low staff and COVID
NPR’s Ailsa Chang speaks with two teachers and a teacher coach about the layers of stress they are currently facing amid the oncoming wave of omicron-driven COVID cases.
Schools Cancel Classes to Give Teachers and Students Mental-Health Days
As educators feel stress in rushing to make up for closings during the Covid-19 pandemic, some in the field say added time away isn’t the solution.

In these pieces, you can see that the debate about teacher mental health is still very real and very present. While it is no panacea, I'm a big fan of meditation as an important part of my mental hygiene routine. I know you can Google around and find a billion articles about the benefits of meditation, but, for some people, the science of it isn't the blocker: it's the hurdle of learning how to do it.

Thankfully, the good folks over at Headspace offer free access to teachers through their Headspace for Educators program. I signed up for it earlier this year and have clocked over 100 hours of meditation time in the app. If you are just diving into meditation practice, the Basics courses are very useful, easy-to-learn, and quick: 10–15 minutes each day is all you need. Alternatively, you can choose from any number of courses and Andy and the gang will walk you right through it.

Headspace for Educators
Improving the health and happiness of the world, one educator at a time.

You might also try Mandy Froehlich's free course: "Self-Care for Educators":

Self-care for Educators
This course addresses the importance of self-care, the different types, where to begin, and how it can be practically fit into a schedule. While the content relates back to the education profession, the learning and advice can be used by anyone.

(If you know of any other great teacher freebies out there? Please feel free to reach out to me via Twitter.)

Photo by Dawit / Unsplash

This Month on ROOTED

After a long hiatus, we are getting back into the swing of things here. Check out our post from earlier this month!

Don’t Like the Result? Do It Again.
I’ve tried just about every grading system under the sun: traditional systems, standards-based, no grades, etc. But starting with these three key principles, I really think I’m hitting my stride.

From Around the Web

Grades Are the Worst Thing About College. Here’s My Genius Proposal to Fix That.
Call it pass-fail-plus.
Why I Changed My Email Setup - Study Hacks - Cal Newport
Last week, for the first time in a long time, I made a substantial change to the configuration of my email inboxes. This might seem somewhat out of character. As readers of A World Without Email know, I’m largely indifferent about using hacks and technical fixes to improve your email experience. The…
“I’ve never experienced white guilt.”
A black teacher reflects on helping her white students explore their racial identities.
James Baldwin on the Creative Process and the Artist’s Responsibility to Society
“A society must assume that it is stable, but the artist must know, and he must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven.”
How can we be more honest?
There’s a myth that being honest is different from caring. Why?
How I Hold It Together: ‘Worry Timers’ and More
Six ways I’m staying grounded.
Interrupting Bias: Calling Out vs. Calling In - Diversity and Inclusion
Calling Out: When we need to let someone know that their words or actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated When we need to interrupt in order to prevent further harm Will likely feel… Read More

Need a Laugh?

Professor Put Clues to a Cash Prize in His Syllabus. No One Noticed.
Tucked into the second page of the syllabus was information about a locker number and its combination. Inside was a $50 bill, which went unclaimed.
If they're not reading the syllabus, why are we writing it?

ROOTED Monthly is a fresh collection of posts, links, and ideas about teaching. Please feel free to forward this newsletter or ask friends to subscribe. We'd love to reach a larger audience, especially if it will be helpful to any educators out there. Lastly, we would love to feature your voice on ROOTED. If you have an idea for an article, please go to our submissions page and get in touch with us.