Dear friends and colleagues
It’s over…it’s finally over. You did it! The 2020 Spring to 2021 June School year has finally ended! Yes, the dates I’ve listed are the not dates of the traditional Canadian School year, but I think, without doubt we will all look at these past 14 months in a global pandemic as a singular occasion that deeply affected each of our lives personally and professionally.
You have spent the last 14 months facing the unknown that comes with each pandemic day: all the while trying to make every day a success for the students under your watch; and now you’re there. You have done it. You have "slipped and slid" across the finish line into a relatively “normal” summer. As you step out of the COVID-19 cave, however, into the light that will be the 2021 summer – what should you do? A little “revenge travelling” (I had not heard that term before COVID)? Making up for lost time with friends and family? Welcoming people into your home? Not watching the news every Monday at 3pm? What will your summer of 2021 be like? My hope is that whatever you are doing this summer is able to fit into these three categories to better mentally prepare you for September.
ReFresh: Your summer should be a time of refreshment: You really don’t need to be doing MORE. This summer, please take some time to do LESS. You need to rest your body, your soul and your mind. You and your colleagues have just been through an unprecedented 14 months: a cataclysmic event that people seem to only write about in movies. I don’t think this summer is time for expending more energy doing things you don’t want to really do that will sap more of your inner strength. You really need to spend some time in renewal: shedding away the angst of COVID. Once that is accomplish ,and you have shed that old 14 month skin, you can then….
ReIgnite: Your passion for your profession, your students and their families. I know this year has been tough and it must have been so hard to come into work with all of your stresses knowing that despite all of what you’re going through personally, you still need to take care of other people. You needed to make sure your students were learning, that their families were cared for, and your colleagues at school felt supported. There was so much giving these 14 months and so few opportunities to have your bucket filled. This summer, it’s time to reignite your passion to change lives. Whether it’s through reading something inspirational, doing something creative - like building lego...or receiving some well-deserved professional development, or watching some life changing video: do something this summer to restart that fire burns for your profession. Once you have reignited that passion then….
Recharge: When you have adequately and effectively spent time refreshing and reigniting yourself, then it’s time to recharge. What does that look like? It could be in the form of continued professionally development. You may be recharged in planning new and exciting lessons for your classes. Or, you may be recharged by having coffee with your colleagues. Maybe you want to start a creative hobby to drive your passion. It’s definitely important to recharge your professional self this summer as you head into the new challenge of September post pandemic. It’s only by recharging that you can stay fresh!
The post pandemic world of education will likely be happening this September. All the data points to a full reopening which includes school as it was (mostly) prior to the spring of 2020. It may feel like a relief that it has finally come – but I do know that many people are tired: and because they are so tired, they are stressed: and because they are so stressed, they are lost. It is so important that you take time out for yourself this summer to refresh, reignite and recharge yourself in preparation for September. You have done something that no other group of educators have done as a collective – you have literally carried your students: their apprehensions, their desire to learn, their mis-trust of the world during a pandemic, and their hopes and dreams – you have carried these with the strength of Atlas.
You have held up their hands and enveloped their hearts and told your students and their families that you are here for them. You have won the day. Now, please take some time for yourself this summer because those very students who so relied on your to get through the past 14 months will need to call on you once again to usher them back into the new-old reality. Have a wonderful summer! You surely do deserve it!
More about this topic on my Stigma Free Society Broadcast from June 28, 2021 – found here: https://youtu.be/BuRn5jaSjyw
Before I finish off - I want to give a shout out to the two grads in our family's life.
Justin Yee - 2021 Grad of Collingwood School
Justin - your spirit of curiosity, drive to succeed, and love for your family is both an encouragement and inspiration. Keep striving to be the best! Auntie Michelle and I wish you the best of luck as you move away for post secondary and know you'll continue to find success in your next adventure!
Jenica Pong - 2021 Grad of Burnaby Mountain Secondary
Jenica - what you have been able to accomplish in your academic and personal life has been simply amazing. You are a Change Maker with the world - literally - wide open in front of you. Auntie Michelle and I believe you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.
Seeing you both grow up right in front of our eyes over the past 17 years has been a privilege. Justin and Jenica, we are so very proud of you.
Thanks for reading everyone!