Breathe

Jen Robinson Uncategorized

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Time seems to be slipping away quicker than ever before. January was blurry and now February seems to be following suit. Over winter break I reflected on work and life, deciding to take time to plan out each week, map out my calendar and events, determine what was urgent and important, plan time for personal victories and set professional goals.

Nonetheless, some days and weeks just seem to consume me, pushing me into a panic, creating anxiety. I find myself becoming easily overwhelmed with a feeling of pressure and fear. I am not sure how else to describe it. The fear of not living up to the person I see myself as or want to see myself as, or disappointing co-workers. The pressure of not completing tasks in a timely manner, or to the level I expect. Sometimes I awake at night feeling paralyzed and lie awake feeling panic as though I missed an important deadline or completely forgot to do something very important. Often so important I can’t even remember what it is. I know it sounds crazy, but I don’t know how else to explain it.

I know it’s not just me, but it concerns me that I can’t find that balance. Over the past several weeks I made time to talk with other colleagues and friends who also share similar feeling of being overwhelmed. Maybe this time of the year has always brought increased anxiety and stress and now I’m just more aware and conscience of it and how I feel? Then I start to think, if I AM feeling anxious and out of breath, what are our new teachers feeling? What are our students feeling? What are our parents feeling?

Am I creating more anxiety for the people around me? In an effort to figure out why I feel this intense pressure, am I really creating the same feeling for everyone else? As I put my words to paper I am able to see things more clearly. How do I step back and regain what I have control over and set aside what I do not? Planning my week is one way, but in some respects that makes me more overwhelmed. So maybe I need to step back and look at the bigger picture. Look at the rest of the school year at a glance while planning out each week. Then I can begin to see where each week fits in and prepare for unexpected, unknown events and schedule enough time to complete tasks or time to just reflect and breathe. Okay, it’s the second week of February, now where does that fit into the big picture? How do I stop and be? How do I stay mindful of all the working parts and breathe?

What do you do when you are feeling overwhelmed? How do you navigate through each day and create space for reflection?

 

Jen Robinson

Maricopa, Arizona

Hello, my name is Jen Robinson. I have been in education for over 20 years. I began teaching in Buffalo, NY in 1992, as a pre-school special education teacher. My experience ranges from primary grades through high school. My husband and I moved to Arizona in 2001, where we were fortunate enough to teach at the same school. In 2004, I achieved National Board Certification and currently support candidates. In 2011 I completed my Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation. My dissertation research focused on supporting National Board candidates through their certification process. During the 2012-2013 school year, I completed my National Board renewal process. It was humbling and very powerful to step back into a classroom. I am currently an elementary principal. I am excited and hopeful for the new school year. I also serve on the Arizona Teacher Solutions Team where we are solutions focused in an effort to transform and elevate the teaching profession.

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Comments 6

  1. Beth Maloney

    Great post, Jen. I can relate all too well. This has been an issue for me since becoming a teacher. The level of responsibility is pretty intense for a classroom teacher – let alone a building principal. We need some Dennis Shirley mindfulness this summer at TLI!

  2. Sandy Merz

    You know, I’m seen as someone who balances things well, but the last couple of weeks I’ve felt the things your write about. It’s strange for me and I can’t imagine working feeling that way all the time like many colleagues seem to. One thing that got me through it has been to remind myself of John Maeda’s Laws of Simplicity. I’ve found myself repeating them to myself when making simple tasks like grading or planning or prepping for labs – Less is simpler than more – so I clean the clutter from my desk. Far is simpler than near – so I store materials I’m not using instead of leaving them out. Some things can’t be simplified – so I just do the F…. grading.Rule 10 is reduce the obvious and add the meaningful, lots of opportunities there. It could well be that the last thing you need is a book to read, but it’s 100 pages, many with art, and lots of summaries. You can find PDFs for free online.

  3. Lisa Moberg

    I think we all feel that as educators, especially when we have high standards for ourselves and our students. I find that prioritizing the needs and wants for my week does help eliminate anxiety. And remember- work hard, play hard!

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