President’s Message August 2022: “First Base”

President Arlo Pew News & Events, President's Message, State Convention

I hope everyone is have a great start to the 2022-2023 school year! I know getting back in the swing of things especially now can be challenging, but also so satisfying.

Coming back really got me thinking about the theme of this years state convention (November 1-3 at the Phoenix convention center. Registration and session proposals are open). I had a plan in mind on exactly what “covering all the bases” meant to me, and what each base was going to represent. As all Physical Educators know all too well that even when we have a solid plan it is always bound to change or need to adjust at the drop of a hat.

In similar fashion first base to me has pivoted to “Self-care”. At my school we started our return to school three days early for additional trauma training. This was an intense three full days of all staff training. The first half of day two was focused on us as teachers. It talked a lot about the idea of “putting on your oxygen mask before you can assist someone else,” and that idea we’ve all heard a million times resonated with me.

It took me back to a conversation I had with my five year old at the end of last school year. We were driving home at the end of the day from school and the gym. She said “Dad can we spend time together on the weekend, we never get to spend time together, and I really want to do something with you.” I turned to the back seat and said “What do you mean? We are always together from when we wake up until you go to bed at night. We both go to the same school”. She stared at me kind of puzzled like I had said something in a foreign language. After a few seconds she said “But Dad that’s not spending time together. We’re always just hurrying and going here and here and here then go home and you’re tired or grouch and we eat dinner and you make me go to bed. That is not spending time together”. I didn’t really know what to say, a five year old put me in a pretzel, because everything she was saying was 100% true. Also because she said it so passionately like she had rehearsed it ahead of time to deliver her message.

It made me realize that I had been doing something I always said that I wouldn’t. All my baggage from a very challenging year wasn’t at the door of the school where I thought I left it. It was actually right there with us, everyday. I realized the important things I wasn’t doing to take care of myself and that work life balance. Sure, we had spent tons of time together but not enough of it was quality time. In the previous years it was the exact opposite we didn’t get to spend as much time but the majority of it being quality, relaxed, carefree, time.

How did this school year get to me this much?

Well simple answer is because I let it. I was so focused on the daily struggles I was having in the classroom more focused on making it to the end of the day. I wasn’t taking any time do do the the things that I teach.

Self-care is something that every teacher should be doing but so many, like me, have opted to neglect, probably unintentionally without even noticing.

To me self-care wasn’t a huge change since then. Doing simple things like not looking at my work email after 3:45pm, sitting and enjoying a baseball game with my daughter without thinking about how I was going to have to adjust my lesson depending on the space I may or may not have available on Monday, or the irate response that might be sitting in my inbox from the parent I had to email at the end of the day.

It probably won’t look like that for everyone, but that’s why it’s called “self” care. Nobody can do it for you or force you to do it. There is no sure fire step by step plan you can follow to find that personal freedom. All I know is that it is worth the time to figure out what works for you. I wish everyone had an enthusiastic five year old to help them realize that surviving is not thriving.

Have a great start to a great school year!

Remember registration is open now for the 2022 State convention.

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