And Today’s Word is …?

Sandy Merz Uncategorized

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Based on how often the Arizona K12 Center features topics related to the stress of teaching on it’s 3P’s in a Pod podcast and its Homeroom page, I thought I might share a new self-care technique I discovered a while back.

Never mind the details about the complexity of my first quarter or about how I feel and express stress. I’ll just assume that if you keep reading it’s because you’re looking for something, anything, to help you manage and cope with the your own hot mess. I hope you can find some use for what follows.

Early in the quarter I realized that tools like to-do lists, daily affirmations, and rigid scheduling might have their place, but weren’t sufficient to help surf the waves that Hurricane 2018 kept throwing my way. So on Sunday evening about four weeks ago, I discerned that my weeks follow a general pattern. That led me to come up with a word or phrase customized for each day to provide the push to keep on keeping on. (Does anyone still say that?)

Here is my weekly list:

Monday: Efficiency

Tuesday: Pace yourself

Wednesday: Throttle back

Thursday: Loose ends

Friday: Finish strong

Saturday: Half work, half play

Sunday: Keep the Sabbath

Having the list, which fits my workflow like glove, automates (or at least heavily informs) a lot of decision-making and enables me to be more present and more relaxed.

And that provides balance and motivation.

And that amounts to a self-care tool worth trying.

So, if you’re of a mind, remember a couple of key points. First, fine tune your list to the match the pattern of your weeks. Second, choose words or phrases that focus on present and near term needs. For example, tying up loose ends on Thursday frees time on Friday and Saturday to focus on planning instead of catching up. And that builds momentum for Monday.

I don’t know what to call this technique. Maybe you can help. It’d also be cool if any reader posted his or her list in the comment section. In any case, keep on keeping on.


I grew up in Silver City, New Mexico and went the University of New Mexico, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology. After working for the U.S. Geological Survey in remote regions of western New Mexico, I moved to Tucson to attend graduate school at the University of Arizona, earning a Master of Science degree in Hydrogeology. While working as an intern hydrologist for a local county agency, I started doing volunteer work that involved making presentations in schools. At that moment I knew teaching was the path to follow. It must have been a good decision because I’m still on the path after thirty-two years. My teaching certificates are in math and science and I am a National Board Certified Teacher in Career and Technical Education. After teaching engineering and math and elective classes at the same school in downtown Tucson my whole career, I've moved to a different middle school and district on the edge of town to teach math. In addition to full time teaching, I am actively involved in the teacher leadership movement by facilitating National Board candidates, blogging for Stories from School Arizona, and serving on the Arizona K12 Center’s TeacherSolutions team. In January 2017, Raytheon Missile System named me a Leader in Education and I'm a former Arizona Hope Street Fellow.

Comments 11

  1. Austine Etcheverry

    This is fantastic. I have bever thought of anything like this but love the tone that it can set. My list:
    Monday: momentum
    Tuesday: Be honest
    Wednesday: Effective
    Thursday: focus
    Friday: Dont’t wait
    Saturday: fun time
    Sunday: Get it done

  2. Amy Casaldi

    My list:
    Monday- start strong
    Tuesday- stay ahead
    Wednesday- next week
    Thursday- finish up
    Friday- reflect and assess
    Saturday- focus then fun
    Sunday- Sabbath: faith and family

  3. Mike Vargas

    I have just cutted and pasted this to my wall. Thanks for sharing.. I feel smarter and better every time I read your articles… Sandy your a Boss!!

  4. Mrs_Buzan

    I love this. There is actually an app exactly for this but I think it’s marketed from the poetry angle not the mindfulness angle.

  5. Beth Maloney

    I love this! I have a daily word that goes with my yoga/mediation practice but it tends to change daily.
    I generally can’t focus much beyond the day ahead of me. I like yours!

  6. James King

    Lets see…

    If I was going to write helpful things for my days:

    Sunday: Focus
    Monday: Be a role model
    Tuesday: High Expectations
    Wednesday: Review
    Thursday: Emphasize and commit
    Friday: Wrap up
    Saturday: Exhale

    Thanks for this fun post!

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