Be A Learner

It is February everyone!

And you know what that means, the weather is gloomy, every commercial you hear is valentine’s day themed (annoying couples and singles alike) AND Elena Aguilar says we should focus this month on Being a Learner. I wanted to write this intro because learning is one of my biggest values and I think that focusing on one’s own learning is the single most important thing that a teacher can do. I truly believe it is what makes an effective teacher!

So to be honest, I was a little irritated when I saw that Elena had put it as the focus of February, the shortest and gloomiest month. (Although side note, my birthday is in February, so it is possible Elena was trying to give me a personalized gift, although, while we HAVE met, we don’t know each other like that, so it feels unlikely).

Anyway, Elena argues that February is the perfect time for reflection and learning because it is a little more than half way through the year and people tend to have more emotional bandwidth here. That feels like an interesting perspective to take into consideration during the pandemic. On one hand, personally I feel like I’ve done nothing but be forced to learn to do things differently for a solid 12 months. However, on the other hand, my brain feels completely fried at this point, and like there is a huge barrier to learning.

A lot of the things that we have had to learn this year, do not seem huge, but are. When I sat down and reread the chapter, I noticed that Elena spends a lot of the time discussing learning how to structure your time in a way that helps you manage your energy, and learning how to focus on self care. (Page 236 in Onward, if you too want to go check it out) Personally, I’ve found myself struggling with things like, how do I manage my time when I only see people virtually, how to I maintain any structures in my life, how do I not just become a ball of stress when I am worried about the health of everyone around me, etc. over the last 12 months. I know that these questions exist even larger when looked at on the classroom/school level for all of you.

February has felt hard to me, maybe it is because of the gloomy weather (I very much cope through being outside), or the endless valentines’ commercials, or just the knowledge that Covid has been going on for a year and does not seem to be leaving anytime soon, but my structures and energy management have felt off. So the commitment that I am going to make myself this month is to reflect on and be open to learning around my energy management. To celebrate small wins, enlist people/things/puppies that bring me joy, pause and renew, and some other great ideas of Elena’s (again y’all, page 236 is where it is at!)

I encourage you all to do the same. Learning and growth doesn’t have to mean finding the perfect tool for your classroom, figuring out a whole new grading system or even completely figuring out how to reschedule your time. Sometimes it can look like just reflecting on where you are at as a person in the world and deciding how to manage your energy a little better.