Summer vacation is finally here, and while all of your students bask in the glory of beach vacations, summer learning experiences, and lazy days at the pool, one thing is for certain: They aren’t thinking about the next school year. I dare say, they aren’t even thinking about next week. And you know what? Neither should you.
This summer, instead of stressing out about professional development, school leadership conferences, or staying up to date on the newest education technology, I challenge you to do something different. I challenge you to walk a mile (or rather, a summer) in your students’ shoes.
Now, when someone says to walk a mile in their shoes, it generally means you’re having a hard time understanding them. Your situation is different, though. You already know what it’s like to be a student. You’ve been there, done that, and now you work with students and student needs every day. But, when was the last time you looked out for your well-being the way you look after your students’? When was the last time you allowed yourself an extra day of rest because you were too stressed out? Or, when was the last time you joined a new sport or a new social club to broaden your network and learn new skills for the fun of it?
If you answered any of those questions with, “Oh! Just last week!” then feel free to stop reading and continue on with your adventurous life. However, if you’re like me, or if you’re like 99% of the other adults out there, it’s probably been a while since you were able to accomplish any of those tasks. You can change that, though, and it starts with treating yourself the way you treat your students.
Read that again: Treating yourself the way you treat your students.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a coach, principal, nurse, or anything in between. What you all have in common is you genuinely care about each student's well-being, and you're the first one to go out of your way to make sure students are safe, healthy, and happy.
So wouldn't you say you deserve the same balance in your own life? Of course you do, and here's how to accomplish it by walking in your students' shoes this summer:
1. Picture yourself as a student, and imagine what you would tell yourself.
Instead of hitting yourself over the head for a sub-par athletic season, think about what you would tell your students if they were in the same situation. My guess is it would sound a little different from your own internal dialogue. It would change from painful criticism to constructive criticism. You would look for a way to be better next time, develop a plan, and then let it go.
2. Allow yourself to relax.
Your students are enjoying their summer, so why shouldn't you? It's easier said than done, but taking some time to look out for your own well-being is paramount to serving students better - not to mention, you deserve it! Many of you will need to check in on school matters, but in between those days of work, take the extra time to recharge your batteries and check up on those New Years resolutions you made to be healthier and get more sleep. If you have to, schedule in relaxation time so you hold yourself accountable. And, whatever you do, don't feel guilty about it. If you do start to feel guilty, simply refer back to Step #1.
3. Try something new outside of school.
Summer is short. Be proud of the accomplishments of the past year, and look forward to the improvements and hard work to come. But in the mean time, don't be afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone to try something new. It could be a social club or community service, but whatever it is, it will broaden your experiences. Wouldn't you recommend the same thing to your students?
With these three steps, I hope you can enjoy your summer, and be ready for a stellar year to come. And if you're looking for ideas for ideas of what to do with your extra time, look no further than this school nurse's unique summer adventure.