Staying Present

Jen Robinson Current Affairs, Education, Teacher Leadership

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Recently, I read the AZK12 Center’s Homeroom Article: Make the Most of Your Commute: 8 Tips for Teachers. This article provided several strategies and suggestions to use when you are stuck behind the wheel. One that stood out for me was, Get Reflective. Grab a pile of sticky notes and write thought-provoking topics on each one. Then, stick them to the center of your steering wheel or center console. While you drive, reflect on the word or phrase written on the note. Maybe it’s an intention for the day or the name of a student you’ve been challenged by recently. You could write down the name of someone who inspires you or a favorite quote that holds significant meaning. Whatever you choose, use the drive time to set the tone for your day.”

My challenge for April was to set an intention each morning by writing a word, phrase, question or quote on a sticky note. That sticky note was visible in my car while driving to school. This gave me undivided time to plan what it might look like or when I might have opportunities to use it. When I returned to my car at the end of the day, I reflected on my actions, on how I was able to stay mindful of the word, phrase, question or quote.

Here’s how my first week went…

Monday – Who will you give a note to today?

Tuesday – What slight change made all the difference today?

Wednesday – What opportunities will you have or miss today?

Thursday – What did you learn today that will inform tomorrow?

Friday – How will you be true to yourself today?

I was very aware of my question on Monday and went out of my way to give notes to both staff and scholars. At first I handed out a card that said, “It’s Monday, don’t forget to be awesome.” I noticed scholars didn’t really know what to do with it and honestly I gave out as many as I could. I struggled choosing one person, so I decided to be more purposeful and give personal notes to scholars that often times get overlooked or the ones I struggle connecting with. This gave me an opportunity to find something good about each scholar and share that with them in a note. When I switched to personal notes, the response was more genuine and scholars paused to listen and read the notes. One scholar even said, “This is my lucky day. I can’t believe you wrote me a note.” The rest of the week I continued writing notes to scholars and staff. 

How do you do to stay fully present?


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 3

  1. Leah Clark

    First, I love that you call your students scholars. My AP English teacher did that and I still remember it. I try to call my kids smarties whenever I can. Second, I love the idea of using the drive to help set my mindset for the day. Recently, my alone time in the car changed and I have two passengers with me. It stresses me out and I miss my think time. I am going to try and reset my mind and remember I am lucky to have my mom and baby in the car with me. I hope this helps my first few minutes I arrive at school become a more positive experience. Great post!

    1. Amethyst Hinton Sainz

      Smarties! Aww. I drive my daughter to school for the first time in a long time this year. She loves to share “tea” each day, and it is adorable, and precious to me, but ooohhhhh, I miss my think time as well. I really struggle with staying present for her because my mind is on school. :/

  2. Caitlin Corrigan

    I needed this reminder to be fully present today. It can be so hard to tune out all the distractions, obligations, social media, etc. sometimes! I stay present by reminding myself that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and give my full attention to the task or person at hand. I like the sticky note idea, and I think I will try that when I return from maternity leave in 2 weeks!

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