Sunday, August 14, 2016

Treat and Release

"Treat and Release" is a tad like "Catch and Release". Let me explain why I find this to work in my mind. You might find it to be a stretch. That's okay. Maybe, someone else will find it to be useful in their effort to make it a happier school year for themselves.

This thought process all started this summer break when a dear friend of mine was sharing their difficulty in letting the intense stress of work go. This person's job within the school system is massive. It requires mental and emotional stamina like I know I don't have. This person deals with every level of adult workspace drama, special student needs, and the specific and very taxing line that must be walked to provide all the state requirements, the parent's demands, the educator's needs, and most importantly the student's best interest. Whew! All of this must be served at all times. (Personal Note: said person does their job extremely well) This is the dilemma we were both having. How to let it all go? How to come home a happy person at the end of the day? How to be mentally and emotionally at peace with having done our best in that day? How not to make the people, we love at home, live in our school world stress daily?

We both decided we were going to work on our own personal method for doing better in the next school year. Challenge on! After all, being a happy, well-adjusted person at home is key to being a happy, well-adjusted person in the academic setting. What I realized immediately after our conversation was I wasn't alone. I mean, I knew I wasn't alone, but I had this super together person with much more responsibility, lots of degrees, who always seemed to be keeping the ducks lined up, lay their heart out. This friend was in need of a listening ear. My listening ears completely understood what they were hearing.

Mission for Happiness Increase:
I was on a new mission to pursue a game plan for combating my "school war fatigue". "School War Fatigue", or SWF, can wipe out the Happy School vibes. Picture this. The unhappy vibes come home in the car with us. They march right up the front sidewalk and crash our family time, our supper conversation, our family movie night, our bible studies, our yoga time. Pretty soon, our spouses and children wish we would get back in the car and find any empty closet at school to call home. Sounds familiar to many of you. Doesn't it?

It's one thing to share the day and pack it away. It's another thing to bring it on every single, dang day! How do I know this? Because, my almost saint of a husband has had to stop me from ruining my own afternoon and evening with left over school angst countless times. He did it for me. And, he did it for our "happiness level" at home. Sometimes, I have to do the same for him. Which brings me to this little "God Thought". It popped into my head earlier last week, as I wrapped my 75 day, summer break, mind around the start of school. Stop the madness!

Hold on to this crazy analogy. I LOVE to fish!! I day dream about it randomly. Just ask my husband.
Fishing, for me, brings calm and meditation. It's a quiet activity. I feel connected to the nature around me. Therefore, I feel close to God. With fishing comes the over used phrase, "Catch and Release". It suddenly dawned on me "Treat and Release" is what I should be doing everyday! I want to go into the school building everyday to help the children I'm assigned with a brand new attitude. All I am expected to do is my best on each given day. When I am finished, as I exit the building, I want to release the trials and troubles of the day into God's hands. (You may be of another faith---fine, release it). This is my new goal.

I shared it with my friend this weekend. I'm praying we will both be able to do this activity until it becomes an interwoven part of our healthier, happier behavior each day. Realistically, I know some days aren't ones we can let slide. There are "doozy" days that leave us rattled. We have to process those days. Still, I'm feeling good about this experiment. I have found the best plans usually start out simple. Simple choices with large outcomes for the better. That's what we are aiming for this year.

Choose Happier Days:
I'll close to this first blog of the brand new 2016-2017 year with an invitation to all of my education staff friends everywhere to "Treat and Release" this year. You deserve to go home happy. Your family deserves to have you at your best. We tell children everyday, " can make positive ones or you can make negative ones. It's up to you." Make the best choices. Best wishes for a Happier School Year!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Shutting Down The Negative Energy

I don't want to go to Negative Land. Do you?

My friends, this is a sensitive subject. Negative Land is only a few words away on any given school day. How do I know that? I've been there far to many times myself. Sometimes it's been me giving off the negative vibes. Shame on me! And, sometimes it's the person everyone runs from (which...could be me), because they know the rain is about to come down on somebodies parade. Regardless, Happy Schools cannot function when the "Negative Nay Sayers" get their attitude all swirled into a frenzy.

As much as I don't want to touch on this sensitive subject, we must. It is imperative to the health of a Happy School to speak to the negative personality that can bring "happy" to a screeching halt. 
Let me lay some ground work. First, we aren't talking about the fact everyone has a "Benny's Bad Day" day. We are not talking about the understandable upsets that come along the way in a school day. We aren't talking about the occasional life events that are impossible to not bring to school on a day or even a few days.

We are stepping into the arena of "chronic negativity". The kind of negativity that can do damage to a child's day with one word and to an adult's day with two. The kind of negativity that leaves adults and children wanting a ear swab when the person leaves the room. I don't know why some people thrive on being negative over positive. I can't explain the choice to be hateful and polarize people with negative vibes. I've met people battling horrid trials in their lives, who do so with such positive energy. They bring inspiration to the table with everyone they meet. Yet, there are others that have ruined a perfectly good day at the thought they might have to do more than they expected to do in a school day. Or, they fall apart because the schedule isn't going to be what they expected. Or, they know they do more than everyone else ever does....nobody EVER says "thank you". Or, someone didn't make enough coffee....again! Or, they get bent out of shape when someone won't do their job for them. The "Or" list could go on and on. You probably could add dozens you've experienced at your school. 

Here is an idea for a solution. I have a co-worker that has the most positive way of shutting down negative energy. My co-worker will genuinely (not patronizingly) smile, look the person in the eyes, give a hug to the "negative energy ball" and walk away. No ugly words, no agreeing, no getting sucked into the vortex of negativity. Is my positive friend able to do that every time? No. My friend is human. What I do know is my co-worker friend had no control over the other person's choice to behave negatively. My co-worker did have a choice to not allow that person to affect their stress level or the happiness of their day in the classroom or out. It also gave the other person a definitive sign they were not going to ruin my co-workers day. We can hope the negative co-worker will eventually see "happy" is much better to live inside. 

With all of the difficult issues facing our nation today, we need to bring more happiness to the table.We need it for our mental and physical health's sake. Our children need to feel it coming from us for their best health. During this summer break I've been thinking about different co-workers that fought off the "negative" vibes moving into their school day world last year. It makes me smile. Alright, it makes me happy. I'll share one memory from last school year.

I watched a team of co-workers facing daily struggles as they were striving to reach out to a more difficult to teach group of students. The students were well behaved for the most part. They simply were not the easiest to grasp concepts and retain them. I watched this team of teachers turn their frustration from negative energy into funny, silly things they did together all year. Sometimes they dressed up in costumes. They came up with all sorts of team teaching themes and ideas. I loved watching them work. They kept a hilarious photo album of antics they knew other teacher would think was funny. They laughed together, cried together, prayed together. On the super tough days, when negativity was all down on them, they held each other up. What I observed was a class unit of children and teachers that faired well after a tough year. The teachers were closer as friends. The children loved and respected their teachers...well, almost all the children. You know how that goes. The children DID learn and the teachers realized how strong they were together....united with positive energy. 

I want to encourage you (and myself ) to stop the "negative" fire before it get's started when this new year rolls around. Decide you are going to hold up against what will surely bring you down. When stressful days come around, you can handle it with some creative "happiness". Stop everything and turn your favorite happy music on and let the class get happy with you for five minutes. My boss does that and it has rescued us from insanity many times. Chill out! Break into song. Kinda scary----but truly funny, happy, five-minute, spontaneous, vacations can clean away the mental negativity mess. 

I hope you continue to enjoy your summer break. Make a little time for you to practice ideas for how you will protect your "happy" teaching heart. Pinterest ideas, come up with a "positivity" plan with a co-worker, start a journal of funny school stories, pick out your list of "go to" happy songs, put those songs on your computer at work--bookmarked and ready to go, and begin your plan to walk away from negativity next school year. Be Happy!