Hello friends – first of all, thank you so much to those of you who joined us last Friday for happy hour. What an amazing group of educators! I so wish I could have met with every one of you and provided you with all of the joy and celebration – there was laughter, tears, and a special tribute to my teacher co-hosts. Here’s a picture of us during happy hour:
Second, I want to continue to give you important information and inspiration to get through the last few weeks until school is “officially” out for summer. I know many of you are barely hanging in there. You’re worried about your students. You’re helping your own children at home. You have relatives and neighbors and friends that require your attention and energy.
I want to offer you the analogy of running a marathon. You’ve likely already heard this analogy; but without a lot of context or support. I’ve actually trained for and run a marathon – and there’s a point when you are about 3/4 the way through – it seems like you should feel relieved, “I’m almost done!” And yet, there’s still 6.2 miles left to run – that’s another full race in other worlds. That’s a lot of stamina and strength. 6.2 more miles means continuing to put in effort and sweat and grit.
Sound familiar? It’s just a few weeks until school is “officially” out; but it seems like forever. Collectively, the stress has been high and the loneliness is compounded by disconnection and worry. You have moments when you’re positive you’re making a difference and other moments you want to throw in the towel.
Here’s how you make it from mile 20 to the finish line:
You get a coach or mentor: Find someone you look up to and can provide you guidance. Identify one person who has been on this run and knows how to finish. He/she will create a map, provide guidance and inspiration and knows what it feels like to look at 6.2 more miles. Perhaps that’s your principal or administrator. Maybe it’s a therapist. Maybe it’s a veteran teacher or online support group. Find a leader.
Find an accountability partner: I don’t care who this is, but don’t run the last few miles by yourself. An accountability partner will make sure you’re ok. She will run next to you instead of in front of you. She will make sure you’re hydrated, focused and can envision the finish line. This can be your partner, your best friend, or a colleague. One of the strongest points of feedback I’m hearing from teachers is that they feel isolated. So, I know there are other friends looking for a partner with whom to finish this race.
Take the water breaks: Whether you finish first or last, you’ve run a marathon. You get the medal. So, take time between now and the finish line to get some sleep, refuel your body and eat well. It’s truly important.
Focus on each step: Anyone who’s run a marathon knows that it’s simply time on your legs. Once you’ve run 5 miles you can run 10. Once you’ve run 10 you can run a half marathon. Once you’ve run a half-marathon, you can tackle a full marathon. But no one ever starts out having never run and says, “I’m running a marathon tomorrow” and neither should you. When schools shifted to online learning in March, you’d already run 15 or 18 miles. Now, you’re closing in on 20 with 6.2 to go. Just put one foot in front of the other – get up each morning and make it through one day. Then the next. Before you know it, you’ll see the ticker tape.
Shift your mindset: I know the last few miles can feel like the longest. And yet, you’ve done hard things before. We have all the data to support the fact that YOU. CAN. DO. THIS. Tie on your sneakers and tell yourself, there is no other choice but to finish. Bloody toes, chafed arms, profuse sweat – you will make it.
We’ll worry about “what next” after you turn the corner. In the meantime, you’re closing in on the finish line – and there’s help and support should you need it. I’m here to support you – you’re always welcome to email me or call for inspiration and encouragement. I’ve talked with countless teachers and administrators over the last several weeks.
You are heroes and though it may not feel like it, you’re going to make it to the end. Your cape may be tattered and worn, but it’s there.
P.S. If this helped you, I bet it will help a colleague. Please forward this to one teacher friend who needs to hear this message of support!