Today my piano turned world musics class had a really deep conversation about music and what kinds of classes are offered. The discussion started on their experiences with Andrew this week and the meaning they took away from learning from someone who has spent a significant amount of time studying and experiencing music that was different from their own musical experiences. Then they asked me if "this class will be offered again." A reminder that this class is supposed to be a piano class, but things took a different route when the question "are there more tones than the 12 that we are learning" was asked.
I asked students what they valued about our current class as it stands: exploring musics from different places, the stories behind certain musics, who gets to make music, who doesn't...etc (shout out to Juliet Hess and her recent book for inspiring these questions). Students shared with me that the "informality" of this music class is what is appealing to them. It is all about "discovery" and "experiencing new things" and "questioning what we thought we knew" (these are their words-let me tell you, I about dropped my coffee when they started talking about informal learning. I should have started recording their conversation)
The students shared with me that they appreciated my vulnerability in that I was learning with them. That I took their ideas of projects, and created learning opportunities for them to discover. That they were never sure what to expect coming into class but I always was excited to share with them something that I had learned or was going to share with them. They shared with me that this is the kind of class that could be very appealing to students who aren't interested in band/choir/orchestra (I seriously started to wonder if they had been secretly reading music education journals at this point). They shared with me that these kinds of classes could be "jumping off points" for students who are interested in music, but don't really see themselves in the kinds of classes that are offered.
I listened and absorbed everything that they were saying and now my brain is lighting up with so many thoughts of additional possibilities. In what ways can I restructure my current classes to reflect even more the desires of the students who are in these classes. The current class that I am writing about is only 10, so that number makes this a lot easier. How might I do this with a class of 25? The ideas are quite overwhelming as changing curriculum for one class in the middle of the semester was challenging, but clearly, it was the right thing to do.
So, here I sit going "ok, so that was kinda amazing, what in the hell do I do now?" It's exciting to think of the possibilities but also overwhelming.
I think, if we music educators REALLY want to create space for students to experience music in school, these are the kinds of conversations we need to have with students. Even if we ourselves have not had these experiences, it was very clear to me from the students that these experiences are valued, AND, they do occur outside the school walls. Indeed one thoughtful student shared with the class:
"I love music but I never felt like I belonged in music. I tried band. I tried piano. I tried choir. I didn't enjoy them. I didn't feel connected to anyone. Then this week I got to play tambourine and it's like I finally got to connect with music our our little community here. This opened up a whole new door of what it means to be musical to me. Before I thought in order to participate in music I had to be in some formalized kind of class. This experience has definitely shown me that music is so much bigger than that."
So....there we go.
2018-2019. What a year! What a crazyass year of personal highs and lows, professional highs and frustrations, and just an overall blur. Allow me to re-cap.
The fall started out with me preparing to defend my doctoral dissertation. I have to apologize to all of my first semester students because I definitely was not as present as I should have been for them. There. I put it out there. My mind was definitely centered around finishing school. I flew down to Arizona in October and successfully defending my dissertation: "Do I Really Want to Do This Now?" Negotiations of Sexual Identity and Professional Identity: An Intergenerational Collaboration with Six Gay and Lesbian K-12 Music Educators. My committee, Drs. Marg Schmidt, Jill Sullivan, Sandy Stauffer, and Stephen Paparo were amazing. I could not have asked for a more supportive committee.
I’m really proud of this work, despite the fact that every time I take a glance at the document I find a mistake. Every. Single. Time. That aside, I have this thing that I wrote, that I labored over, and finished. It took about everything out of me, but I came out the other side a bit smarter, a bit wiser, and with a fucking Ph.D. To that I celebrated. I flew back to Arizona in December to walk at graduation and celebrate with family and some of my closest humans.
That felt great and I was proud of myself. I also recongize that this is something to be proud of, because it is a lot of damn work. Nobody can prepare you for what doctoral work does to your brain. It mentally screws with you in ways that makes you wonder what the hell you have been doing and what you are doing to deserve this kind of cognitive punishment. (I’m really selling this well, aren’t I?) Perhaps that’s why such a small percentage of the population obtains such a degree (and a smaller percentage of women).
I often pump up the work of my students, because they kick ass. They do amazing things, but I have been working on feeding myself some self-love as well, and there was a period where I was thinking to myself “I don’t deserve this.” What the actual F?? As in, I don’t deserve this degree. Good grief, right? Well, I put in the time, and a helluva lot of work, and I am a changed person (for the better) because of it, so I am patting myself on the back.
Enough about me and my degree (only so much self-congratulations can happen, right?). In November I found out I was awarded a grant from the Give a Note Foundation, which was super amazing. $4,000 to spend in the classroom. I am starting a new class this upcoming year, Sound Production, and used the money to buy some fun new toys for that class. I am SUPER pumped for that class and there is a huge interest from the students (which is why the class was conceived in the first place). However, possibly even cooler than that, was a connection I made via Give a Note to Orangewood Guitars. They saw some social media tag about the work I do and reached out to see if I use ukuleles. At the time I didn’t, but OF COURSE I am interested in bringing as much music making experiences in the school, so they sent me a classroom set of Ukuleles. WHAT? And no strings attached (pun not intended) The kids absolutely LOVED these fun instruments, and I am now completely re-thinking the curriculum for next year, because #evolve.
This spring was a riot. Jazz 2 (previous posts that I haven’t finished writing about) created their entire spring concert on their own. They wrote/arranged/taught their tunes and we played a whole concert of their music. I say “wrote” very loosely because “notation” was per the person. Everything was done by ear. It was the riskiest damn thing I have ever done as an educator, but it was probably one of the most rewarding because they did all the work, and they were more invested in this concert than any other show we had done. Not to mention, let’s talk about community. Their willingness to discuss, offer advice, and be SUPER vulnerable just made this the tightest-knit band I have ever worked with. They are awesome, and I am so going to miss working with them.
To the last point and something that has become a trend in my professional life. I am moving down a different path. I am going to be a full-time secondary general music teacher next year-no performing groups. Meaning no jazz band. This was actually an easier decision than you might think because my passion as evolved to creating as many musical experiences for students as possible, and for that to occur, something has to give. By adding Sound Production, I needed to let a class go, and our admin added .2 to our orchestra teacher’s FTE, so that worked out perfectly. I spent 15 years teaching jazz and while it is one of my foundational passions, I need to let room in for something else. And, I am still involved with jazz education through our state level groups and adjudicating.
I will spend another post talking about this summer, and some exciting things happening, but I wanted to close with my main goal for this summer. Taking care of me and getting mentally healthy again. Teachers are natural givers, and we hear this all the time, but in order for us to give we must allow for some self-love. Therapy is excellent for this and there is absolulely no shame in talking with someone who will listen without judgement, and offer a different perspective. Therapists are great because they don’t know you, so you have to invite them in, and that is where the work starts. My therapist is great and we are working on all sorts of things, but the main thing is loving myself and how to put up boundaries. By boundaries, I mean, allowing myself to say “no” because the activity won’t necessarily improve my well-being at this point. So, this summer, I have a very free and open schedule, which is pretty amazing and causes a bit of anxiety at times, but then I think about how much I get to do with that time, versus having to do in that time. Wow...that is so liberating.
Hopefully I won’t wait another 6 months to write a post! In the meantime, take a walk, dip your toes in a lake, river, or ocean, smile a lot, and tell yourself that you are a badass.
Welp, it’s happened again. Here we are, in 2019, and I am looking at an honor band with only boys. This summer I had the great opportunity to work with the all-state jazz ensemble. The kids were great. They worked hard, were kind, supportive, and helluva musicians. But there were no girls. What is going on?
I am really trying to understand this.
------Paused 20 minutes….I realized that I am hungry and may be writing from an over-caffeinated, hangry mindset------------------
Ok, I have had time to think about this after I have fueled my racing brain.
Where are the girls?
“They don’t want to audition.”
“They are too busy.”
“They aren’t interested.”
Why are we putting the blame on the girls? Aren’t we the ones that should be encouraging and creating space for these young women to experiment as musicians? It’s time to take a long look inward and outward at the profession and see what WE can do better.
“They don’t want to audition.” Why not? Have they been given opportunities to experiment with improvising as this is often a large component of a jazz audition. And when I mean improvising I mean TRULY improvising-free of worries about chord changes, the “correct” scale degrees, and all the other things that seemingly take precedence when we are teaching improv. If we corrected a baby on their grammar and pronunciation every time they tried out a new word, would they be interested in learning how to speak??? Jazz is a language. You learn by doing and being encouraged. Can’t practice the grammar without the words. Same can be said for jazz improv. Oh, and are these girls being encouraged to LISTEN to jazz? And LISTEN to jazz by other women?
“They are too busy.” Young people are busy, I will grant you that. But in what ways can we make this a meaningful learning experience that they can take back to their own jazz community. What can we do in these honor groups, and our own groups, that goes beyond the preparation for a performance that will encourage these students to make time for this kind of event.
“They aren’t interested.” Why? How are you investing in these young women as PEOPLE, not just as jazz musicians. Let’s be real here. REALLY REAL. How many kids in our ensembles go off to music school? How many of our kids graduate from high school and keep playing for fun? Do you know the answers to that? I bet you know more from the first question than the second question. What kind of opportunities are WE creating for students that will encourage them (both girls and boys) to be interested in making music OUTSIDE of school?
Folks, its time we stop placing the blame on the girls. We have to take ownership for this, both in and out of the classroom. We need to own the fact that it is 2019 and the “testosterone driven” bands should be a thing of the past and aren’t helping anyone.
I’m probably going to take some heat for this blog post, and there may be a point where I edit it. I should probably throw in some citations from researchers who have completed work on this, but I’m a bit too irritated to at this point.
Educators, this is the second time that I am, to some degree, calling you out. I know it takes time, but once again, we women cannot do this on our own. We need the men to take some ownership and work with us. Ask us questions. If you don’t know an answer we will not look down on you-we will be THANKFUL that you asked, rather than just do what has done before.
These are TOUGH conversations to have. I get that. But I want these girls to know that they CAN do this, and we WANT them to do this. Jazz is an amazing art form, one that is near and dear to my heart. Are you with me on this? I am currently in a frenzy conversation with some awesome women to see what we can to do help empower the young women of Minnesota so that they can have their place at the table. Interested in helping? Send me a message.
This past week in guitar we played with Noteflight, an online, cloud-based notation software program (I LOVE cloud based programs). We have been exploring rhythms, and how they are often represented on paper. (I say *often* because rhythmic notation is NOT universal and is just ONE way to visualize beat and sound). Of course, we practiced creating our own rhythms by jamming out in class. I would lay down a pattern and students would fill in the blanks. I actually got this idea years ago when I taught a world drumming class. This is a great way for students to create a pattern, listen to each other, and figure out how their pattern can fit into the greater groove.
Anyway, part two of learning about rhythms was to create a melody using tabs. What we have learned in guitar is that tabs often only give us part of the information. So, if you don’t know how the song goes, or don’t have access to a way to listen to the song, you might be out of luck. That being said, sometimes, and more often now, tabs are accompanied by rhythms, but they aren’t always clear as the notehead is not always shown and the difference between quarter notes and half notes can be confusing. Exhibit A:
You will notice in the second and fourth measures there are only three notes, so by process of elimination, there is a half note in there. And, we see that there is a space after the third note, so that would indicate that it is likely a half note, or a rest. But if you are just starting out, it is a little unclear, so I have the students add a rhythm line so they can see the actual rhythm. Exhibit B:
Much more clear and makes sense to the students as well. It IS a bit cluttered, but for the sake of the visualization, these has helped students visualize and internalize the pulse a bit more.
I should note that while technology can be a great tool, we cannot assume that the students that we work with are digital natives. Yes, they are on their phones and they know how to take amazing selfies, and their texting skills are top notch, but this does not mean they know how to send an email, sign-up for a program, create a log-in name and password. Those are skills that have to be taught. Understanding this, I created a tutorial that students referenced as I went through the sign-up process on my projector. Additionally, when I had students share their creations with me, I showed them step by step how to share and how to send an email. Indeed, I teach high school students, but their backgrounds are so varied that it is not safe to assume they even understand the need for email. In this time I also taught basic email etiquette.
Back to Noteflight and why I use it in class. I think it is an excellent opportunity for students to explore creating their own music. After we get settled in the first day, I just let them explore the program to get familiar with how it works. Like any computer program there are some really great aspects to it, and some clunky aspects to it. For example, in this day of good drive and automatic saving, I have to remind students about ever 10 minutes to hit the save button, otherwise their work wont’ be saved. Additionally, the presence of an “undo” button doesn’t exist, so that provides some frustration as well. But, overall, it is a lovely program.
As you will see in this video, Noteflight is a great way to double check students understanding of note values as well. I had this conversation with Kowsar during class as she was working with trying to align her Tab rhythms with the rhythmic notation. She is a very quiet young lady so I tried my best to repeat what she said.
The other thing to consider when encouraging students to create is that notation can limit what they create. Students brains have the ability to create incredibly complex ideas, but their understanding of what is going on is very limiting with relationship to putting it on paper. Some students may get frustrated with this, but I do my best to try to help them figure out whatever it is they have in their mind. Some students have great ideas that include septuplets or dotted rhythms. Rather than say, “No, we haven’t learned that” I work with them and say, “Wow!! Look at what you created! That is incredible!” And it is incredible.
Additionally, I don’t tell students what sounds good or what doesn’t. That isn’t my job. This is their creation. If they are struggling with finding the next “right note” I first encourage them to noodle around and see if they can come up with something. Then if that isn’t working for them, I might noodle around until they tell me I played something they enjoyed.
The final part of this whole project is that the students will receive a hard copy of their song and practice it and play it for me. While they are working on their creations, I encourage them to play what they have written, to make sure they can play it. I show them the tempo feature which increases or decreases the playback so they can practice along. Noteflight can be a great practice tool as well.
Creating is the bedrock of what we do in all the classes that I facilitate. It is so important to me that students walk away feeling some ownership of what they have done in class. This project elicits these feelings (along with frustration, which goes along with creating) and encourages the students to continue exploring creating on their own.
After several great weeks of groups working together to come up with their own tunes, then sharing their works-in-progress with the rest of the band, we had our first day of co-teaching and co-learning. The first groupt to go was Auguste, Meredith, Sam, and Owen. They created a 12 bar blues that is in in 6/4 and has two measures of 3/2 on the V chord. Pretty damn hip if I do say so myself. And because they were NOT notating their music, I suspect this freedom allowed them to create something a bit more involved.
SO, they started teaching the band the melody the same way that I teach ear-tunes: note by note. They played a note (well, Owen did because he felt the most confident with the tune), and the band would noodle around until they got it. Then the next note, and so on and so forth. The students would get a few notes down and then Owen would play the melody in time and in rhythm, and the band responded. It took about 15 minutes for the band to *roughly* learn the tune, which really is no time at all. We asked Owen to play it by himself so the students could record it on their devices so they can listen to it and practice it at home. By the way, I also learned this tune WITH the students. It's important to be in that same vulnerable place that the students are in to show that we too can make mistakes and it is ok.
I shared with the students that this is a really messy, uncomfortable, and chaotic chaos, but that this is LEARNING and they are doing some pretty incredible work with this project. The rhythm section is already working on a pretty great intro for this tune to make it more interesting beyond the head chart. There are three other groups so there will be a total of four originals by the bands on our Jazz Central concert. I am not sure that I know of any other jazz band that has done something like this before.
I am still trying to figure how how we might go about notating this. When we I taught the band “Equinox” this past spring, it was all by ear, including the chord changes, and they performed it without music. I *think* we could do something similar-where they create their own lead sheets, but I am not sure yet. I will have to ask them what they think they might need. (Yes, I do ask the students their opinions and what they think might work best for them.)
I offer another look into the classroom in this video. Does it sound amazing? Well, as a proud teacher who watched this unfold in about 15 minutes, I would say so, but I am biased.
November 30th update: Wouldn't you know it-we played through the tune today and it sounded even better than this video. So what that tells me is that they either listened to the tune, listened and practiced, or it incubated over the past 24 hours and some lightbulbs went off :) Yay learning!
I was a featured guest writer for the "Getting Smart" blog and was then asked to be a part of a podcast on my work with ELL students!
After a VERY productive summer (Dissertation defense is HAPPENING October 18th!!) I am ready to start writing about teaching again. SO much writing happened this summer. Shout out to my writing pal, Jesse, who set up a writing group. We met each morning Monday through Friday via the interwebs. We set goals for ourselves and then wrote for two hours. I honestly do not think I would have been as productive had it not been for that writing group.
In the music education world we like to play it safe. We often stick with our people: like-minded music educators who have dealt with the same battles: budget, schedules, numbers, frustrating administrators, concerts, pep bands, etc. The list goes on and on. While our struggles are similar I find that other areas of education often have similar struggles (minus the bus being late for the state tournament basketball game).
One of my professional goals this year is to build better connections with people who are in the same profession as me. Not music educators, but other educators. I have come to realize that I have taught in the same building for four years and there are still people that I have not spoken with, or who I don’t recognize. This became apparent at a staff meeting when a bunch of us from different subjects were sitting at a table together and we had to introduce ourselves. I know for a fact that we had all been teaching in the building for at least two years.
Our building is pretty big. We have about 2,000 students and I honestly don’t even know how many staff. Each department is pretty insular, at least from an outsiders view, and I get that. We have similar interests and often similar prep hours. However, I wonder would would happen if we got out of our safe places and got to know our colleagues a bit more.
One of my hopes this year is to visit other classrooms during my prep hour and either observe or participate as a learner. There are so many amazing teachers at South working with the students in really interesting ways and engaging in conversations I could only have dreamed about as a teenager. I want to learn from my colleagues about how to be a better group discussion facilitator. I think we can learn a lot from each other, even if it isn’t in our “content” area. I would also love to go and observe the ELL classes because so many of the students I work with are EL students, I would like to find better ways in which I can connect with students with limited English skills.
I’m genuinely interested in my colleagues beyond their skills as teachers. I want to get to know them more because I think that will strengthen our community at school-a ‘theme’ that is permeating many of the discussions occurring in and out of the classroom. Community and connections are important, but they don’t just happen. We also can’t force them. They need to be sincere attempts at getting to know the person.
What professional or personal goals do you have this year? How do you think these goals will be reached? Why do you have these goals?
Poster by Ricardo Morales.
I want to thank you for everything that you have done for me. So often, at the end of the year, I receive a letter of thanks, or a hug with a thanks. I am forever grateful for those, but I wonder if you ever realize the impact you have on me. This letter is to all the students that I have worked with.
I want to thank you for challenging me in ways that have encouraged me to think differently to how I approach teaching and working with young people. I want to thank you for encouraging me, and challenging me, to not give up in the face of adversity-either when working with other human beings or with myself. Thank you for getting in my face and questioning my intentions and to whom those intentions were for. Thank you for causing me sleepless nights to consider in what ways could I change my approaches to help you succeed.
Thank you for your persistence. You have taught me that persistence is important in learning, in teaching, and in relationship building. Persistence to push me to come up with new ways to challenge you to think differently, think harder, and try new things. Thank you for encouraging me to take risks. If I didn't take risks, personal and professional, we might not have ever met, and then I wouldn't be writing this letter to you. Thank you for letting me make mistakes, and letting try again. Thank you for your patience with me as I navigate new curriculum. Thank you for letting me learn alongside with you.
Thank you for teaching me when I didn't know or understand something. I really appreciate that you are ok being the teacher sometimes because I learn a lot from you. I have learned what it means to fall down, struggle to get back up, and phone a friend for help. I have learned that sometimes the love we feel isn't from the people we think it should come from, so instead we have to rely on others for that. I have learned that sometimes, school just isn't the most important thing and that day to day survival is what matters most.
I want to thank you, my students, for pushing me to be better. I have watched as you work with your peers with empathy and compassion. I have watched you challenge each other in friendly and critical conversations. I have watched you grapple with situations that are far out of your control and are bigger than what you should have to deal with in your young years. I have learned that humanity does exist and that we can all be better if we stop, listen, and learn from each other.
I want to thank you for keeping me humble. Too often we pride ourselves in getting you to work, but you have kept me working. You demand a lot from me, always asking for more and wanting to do more. It's amazing. You are all incredible human beings.
Finally, I want to thank you for letting me walk beside you as your teacher. We don't always get a whole lot of say in who we work with, but each and every single one of you has taught me how to be a better person. I hope you know that.
This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the NIME6 (Narrative Inquiry in Music Education) in Boston. My dear friend and colleague, Nick McBride, and I presented our personal narratives on our reflections on narrative research. I also attended a workshop by Patricia Leavy who shared with ideas on writing and encouraged us to write at least ten minutes every day. So, here I am at school at 7:00 writing. Jazz band is done for the year, but by contract we are supposed to be here, so I guess I will take advantage of the opportunity.
Today’s post is not really about teaching tips or ideas, nor is it about research. It is about self-care. I know. . . I KNOW. Self-care is all the rage, right? Everybody is doing it! BUT WE AREN’T. Today’s post is prompted by one of the conversations that took place after the delightful Tami Draves presented a paper “Class, “FirstGens,” and Music Education.” The paper itself was wonderful, but it was the conversation that took place after the paper that caused me to pause: self-care in music education and for music educators.
We live and breathe in a society that is fueled by the hustle; fueled by 60 hour work weeks, working on the weekends, working during dinner, working all.the.time. In the discussion after Tami’s paper, we discussed how schools of music perpetuate this in a potentially unhealthy way. Undergraduate music education majors attend class during the day. Between classes they practice ___ hours. Evenings are often filled with rehearsals, required concerts, more practicing, studying, and potentially a job to help pay for college. For music education students this often translates to when they come into the profession: during the day they teach, some stay after school for HOURS working with students, or grading. Many music teachers are gigging musicians in their after hours as well. Many high school music teachers find themselves at multiple pep bands during the week, musical rehearsals, district meetings….etc. OH….and sometimes teachers want to have a family, so they have to navigate the complexities of that as well.
Where does self-care fall into place in all of this? I am not talking about the occasional mani-pedi with your girlfriends, or a night of poker with the guys (sorry about the complete gender stereotypes there….). But what about taking time for YOU to bring alignment with your mind/body/spirit? Let’s be honest-this is so far off the priority list for many of us that when we realize that we need to take care of ourselves, it is often too late or we feel completely lost.
Case in point. This year has been a struggle for me. Not with school. Not with research, but with my self-care. I foolishly got myself involved in seven conferences, six of which I presented research or teaching strategies. This is just the beginning of what I overcommitted myself to and around late January/early February my body decided that it had about enough. My brain was going nonstop and my body could not keep up. This stress led me to have a resurgence of hepatitis A and adrenal fatigue. When my doctor looked at me point blank and stated, “you have to rest,” I actually replied “I am not sure I know how to rest.” Seriously. I had backed myself into a corner of constantly going that I wasn’t sure how to get myself out. It was scary. I didn’t realize what I had done because I had thought that this was the norm. It is not. Our bodies were not designed to be a work horse going all day. Our bodies, especially our major organs that deal with stress hormones, do not recognize the difference between mental/emotional/physical stress. I had ALL the stress going on. And I don’t mean “oh shit, I am so stressed out.” I felt like I was THRIVING on this. It kept me going. I felt like I was making a difference in the world. What I didn’t see, and what everyone else around me saw, was that I was starting to fall apart. In the wise words of my CrossFit coach, Logan, "Sarah, you need to chill the fuck out."
SO….self care. I have learned that simple things are REALLY important to the healing of my body, my brain, and my overall outlook. Everyday I take really big belly breaths when I start to feel anxious and that instantly centers me. Sometimes I have to take a few breaths in a row. This type of breathing brings my shoulders down, relaxes my faces, lowers my blood pressure, and reminds me to just ‘be’.
Every night I listen to a meditation to calm my brain. I never make it through because the voice is SO relaxing. In this meditation (there are a bazillion apps out there) I focus on breathing. . . again, breathing is just SO important. We often forget this when we are in the heat of a day of teaching and our shoulders rise up and we become tense.
Yoga. I used to think I needed to go to a yoga studio and get a major sweat on to receive any benefit from yoga. This is so not the case. I really love Yoga with Adriene because she is super real, her practices are very much about no perfection, self-care and self-love.
Therapy. Yep. Therapy. Talking with someone who actually doesn’t know me-someone who can look at me and my life objectively and provide some outside perspective has been super helpful.
Saying “no” and being ok with it. I’ve had the chance to turn down some opportunities recently and it has been empowering. Before I was saying ‘yes’ to everything because I was nervous that the experience would not happen again. You know what, it is ok because we can’t do everything all the time. I realized this in March that, as a perfectionist, trying to be 100% at 100% of the things I am doing 100% of the time is just not sustainable. Something will suffer.
Allowing yourself to just “be”. Damn, it was HOT yesterday. Our basement was nice and cool, so instead of cleaning and being outwardly productive, I watched two movies, stayed where it was cool, and just enjoyed relaxing. Five months ago, I would have deemed that as being lazy. Now I deem it as enjoying a day off.
Sitting in silence. As a music teacher, I spend 8 hours a day (or more) immersed in sound. Sound is everywhere. I have taken to turning off my radio on my drive home so I can just sit in silence. It is glorious.
Taking joy in the simple things around you. I really love the beauty of nature. Each morning I look outside my kitchen window, take in a big belly breath, and thank mother nature for creating such beautiful colors and sounds. This time of year is especially lovely as the birds are up bright and early, it is quiet in the morning, and flowers are starting to grow and bloom. The breath just brings it all together and just grounds me.
Some people find that journaling, walking, reading books, and other forms of exercise can be modes of self-care. As long as YOU feel better afterwards, are refreshed, feel more calm, and centered, I think you can do whatever you want.
But let’s be real here. This is super important. I would hate for anyone to go through what I experienced. I mean, it wasn’t the worse thing in the world, but it was incredibly frustrating and I am still figuring it all out. By no means am I a self-care expert. I am still on the journey and will always be on the journey. I do think it is important that we talk about these things as we can only get by on adrenaline and coffee for so long. I do think that it is important for our profession to understand that we should address these issues for the sake of the humans that are working with young humans. I do think that this is something that perhaps higher education needs to look at in how they model and practice self-care with future teachers.
I would love to hear how YOU practice self-care-even if you are not an educator. We can all learn from each other. Thank you and make sure to give your self some love today :D