Well, here we go again….. Longingly cherishing the final few hours of the Labour Day weekend in our rear view mirror as we look ahead to the journey of another school year. From the posts on various social media platforms, many educators participated in a number of family traditions, some visited favourite locations, some soaked up the final rays of sunshine at cottages and at beaches, some were making the trek to various universities both near and far as their own children were beginning a new leg of their educational journey, some shared their anxiety and excitement as their young children are beginning their elementary careers and others posted relaxing pictures of BBQs and campfires with family and friends.
It’s hard to believe that in 24 hours that view in the rear view mirror will become almost indiscernible, as visions of welcoming students, supporting new colleagues, distributing notebooks, sharpening pencils, charing Chromebooks, selecting the perfect first day outfit and packing a lunch will be front and center as we embark on this year’s journey ~ the 2016-2017 school year.
Like others, I took the opportunity this weekend to visit a favourite spot as I, too, wanted to bottle a final few carefree (meeting-less, technology-free ) moments.
And although I hadn’t anticipated thinking about the upcoming school year, as I watched the changing movement of the water I couldn’t help but draw a few similarities. As I looked to my right, the water was calm and the trees were peacefully reflected on the water. The sunshine seemed to dance and twinkle on a few ripples.
How easy it is for us to “reflect” when things are calm and going well. My initial view reminded me of the beginning of the school year ~ smooth sailing.
As my view started to shift to the left, a few rocks were noticeable just below the surface of the water, with a few larger ones breaking the surface and the movement of the water seemed to pick up some speed. As our school year begins, very few of us have the luxury of calm waters for an extended period of time ~ the speed at which we need to deal with everything increases and those rocks (obstacles) break the surface and become more noticeable.
As my gaze followed the direction of the stream, the rocks got even larger ~ large enough that one could cross the river and follow a completely different journey. Large enough that the movement of the water could be described as rushing. No more could you see the reflection of the trees, and the sunshine, which, to the left, could have been described as twinkling was now exploding so much so that you could no longer see the blue of the water… just the white reflection of the sunshine.
At one point on the river, a large tree had fallen and thereby creating a significant obstacle for the running water ~ at certain spots, impenetrable
We know this feeling all too well. Lots of obstacles, lots of distractions, things moving so quickly that we don’t make the time to stop and reflect. As we look at the obstacles, we can’t help but wonder if an alternative journey is better than the one we are currently on.
But alas…. as I continued my panoramic view, 180 degrees (better get some math in here….smile) later, the water was calm again, the trees were peacefully reflected and the sunlight once again danced and twinkled on the few crests of ripples.
For those of us returning to similar assignments, we know all too well that the ebb and flow of “my” river is what we are about to embark upon. Our rocks and overhanging trees may change (last year at this time, we could never have imagined the world of GENTLE), but we can undoubtedly expect them. We can predict that at some point we’ll want to take another route on our journey ~ as it seems easier than the current rush of water and large boulders. But we’ll stay the course and celebrate the obstacles (as that is where we do our greatest and most authentic learning) and we’ll cheer as we return to calmer waters ~ more reflective, stronger and ready for the next leg of our journey.
For those of you entering new assignments ~ embrace every part of the river’s flow. Reflect as much as you can, even if the speed of the water and boulders seem to make it impossible and you have moments in which you want to change direction. You’ll want to have those memories documented, as they will make the celebration at the end that much more meaningful.
All the best to each and every educator, as they shift from the rear view mirror to looking straight ahead ~ ready to forge the streams!
As you look forward to this school year, what are you most excited about? How will you document the reflection of the trees, the rushing water and the boulders (those hidden below the surface, those cresting the surface and those impeding your journey)?
Come write with me…