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June 1, 2018
Vol. 75
No. 9

Tell Me About

Tell us about something you do to unplug or regroup when your professional life gets stressful.

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School Culture

Getting a Running Start

Exercise is my go-to cure for stress. More specifically, I run. Every day, to start the day, before the sun comes up, I run. I do this before anyone else in the house awakes, so I am not taking time away from my family. Running gives me the attitude and the energy that I need to start my day. It is an opportunity to reflect on previous days and plan for the current day. It is also time for my mind to wander and not worry about what has happened or what might happen. Furthermore, there are great online communities of educators (such as #FitLeaders and #RunLAP) where I can connect with others who share my passion for exercise and education.

Figure

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Photo courtesy of Eric Ewald
Eric Ewald, principal, Van Allen Elementary, Iowa City CSD, North Liberty, Iowa

She Shoots—She Scores!

I regroup by playing alongside my students at recess. I always have a crowd of spectators when I join in on a game of road hockey, challenge a student to a free throw competition, or just start playing catch. Is there anything better than surprising your students when you actually can shoot and score?
Julie Scrivens, principal, Sonrise Christian Academy, Picton, Ontario, Canada

When in Doubt, Declutter

Organize something. External clutter contributes to or reflects internal clutter. By cleaning out or organizing a drawer, shelf, cabinet, tote box, or even your wallet or purse, you have accomplished something. That small satisfaction can give you a bit of breathing room so that tackling something else or transitioning to another activity comes a bit more easily.
Georgia Tucker, library media, Plymouth Joint School District, Plymouth, Wisconsin

Remember Your Why

When work life gets stressful, I follow Curly's Law. I do activities that help me remember my one thing, my why. Some days that means I'm more intentional about making personal connections with kids, writing a note of encouragement to a colleague, or reading through my gratitude journal and thank yous I've received. Family time, long walks, and working out are also at the top of my list. When I take care of me, I'm better prepared to handle stress and help others.
Peggy Muehlenkamp, reading specialist, School District of Janesville, Janesville, Wisconsin

Get Your 8,000 Steps In

A walk a day will clear the mind and heal the soul. It does not have to be a 30-minute walk—even just a walk down the hall or around the building can be beneficial. I strive to take at least 8,000 steps a day. Walking is for mental, physical, and emotional survival in our stressful world as educators—and it will also give you more face-to-face time with your students and staff if you walk to see them instead of emailing.
Forest Issac Jones, director of administrative services, Salem City Schools, Salem, Virginia

Simple Storytime

When I find myself feeling stressed, I download an audiobook or podcast to my phone, put the leash on my dog, and head to a nearby trail through the woods. Being in nature has a calming effect on me, and losing myself in a good story lets me escape my life and enter someone else's for a short while.
Kathleen Bittinger, academic tutor, Silver Spring, Maryland

Jamming It Out

I love to sit and figure out chords and notes for my guitar. Plunking out melodies on the keyboard, then transposing them for the guitar, leads to singing along and jamming out when no one is home but me and the dog. He is a kind audience and never boos. It gets my brain working in a totally different manner and allows me to be creative while not worrying about what impact it will have on my students, other than me being in a good mood for them the next day.
Lacey Majors, middle and high school gifted educator, Fox C-6, Arnold, Missouri

Namaste

When I am doing yoga, I think of nothing but my movements. The stress of my day doesn't float into my mind. I don't think of strategies for professional development. I don't consider my full calendar the next day. I don't worry about curriculum alignment or formative assessments or teaching strategies. My mind is empty of everything but movement.
But my blood starts circulating. My muscles loosen. And in the silence, I find answers to the questions that drive my work. When I leave, I am refreshed and rejuvenated. I am grounded and refocused. Every time.
Jill Cross, dean of curriculum and instruction, TMI Episcopal School, San Antonio, Texas

A Stitch a Day Keeps the Blues Away

I crochet to create things for others. The yarn and repetitive nature of the art helps me to get into that unplugged mode. Whether it is a gift for a loved one or a donation, I know that I am giving to others and appreciating all of my blessings.
Jessica Zimmer, elementary supervisor, Wantagh UFSD, Wantagh, New York

Channeling Your Inner Bob Ross

When I find myself needing to unplug from the stresses of work, I grab a paint brush. I love to paint pictures of things that have personal meaning: horses, skiing, Smith Mountain Lake, or a beautiful sunset. Occasionally I will enroll in a noncredit painting or photography class at the local community college. Painting is very relaxing. An added bonus is the sense of accomplishment you feel when your painting is finished.

Figure

el201806_tellme_fig2.jpg
A Horse's View of Heaven by Forrest Burgdorf
Forrest Burgdorf, assistant director of secondary instruction, Augusta County Public Schools, Verona, Virginia

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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