Spring break is a wonderful time to take a deep breath and reconnect with ourselves and those we love. Many of us take the opportunity to rest and engage in hobbies that we often have to put aside in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life. I hope that you were able to enjoy your time off and engage in some fulfilling activities.
As I have thought about these next several months, it reminded me of marathoners running a race. If you interview a person who runs marathons, most will describe what they call “hitting the wall” around the 18–20-mile mark. This is because “our bodies store about 1,800 to 2,000 calories worth of glycogen in our muscles and liver [and] on average, we use about 100 calories per mile when running, depending upon run pace and body mass.” According to Susan Paul of Runner’s World, when that preferred energy source is depleted, something happens in our brains that encourages it to go into preservation mode which can introduce negative thinking and make us want to give up. To sum it up, it’s a simple math equation, and to overcome it, athletes spend a significant amount of time training before a race to prepare for that moment.
So why am I speaking about that now? I don’t share this to suggest that we are in a race, but to emphasize the importance of being intentional about actions we can take to remain committed to our goals and see them through to the last day of school. Learning has a compound benefit that yields big returns over time. Because of that, every minute is precious.
To be successful and focused to the very end, there are a few tips that the College Board offers to students. I think they very much apply to us as educators too. Here are some of those tips:
- FOCUS ON HIGH-IMPACT ACTIVITIES. Not every activity we plan for or engage our students in are created equal. Some are good, some are better and some are best. When designing activities for your learners and when choosing where to focus your time and attention as a teacher, focus on those things that are going to give your students the greatest advantage and have the strongest impact on their learning outcomes.
CREATE NEW CHALLENGES. By March, it is not uncommon to feel fatigue. Both students and teachers feel this, and it is normal. One way to boost our focus and energy is to introduce new challenges. Humans love novelty. Make learning fun and engaging by challenging your learners’ brains with standards-aligned activities that push their thinking, challenge their perceptions and connect them to the things that they find personally important.
LEAN INTO YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK. We all need support and encouragement. Some of the best sources for that support are those we interact with the most – our colleagues and friends. Share your challenges with your peers. Seek out solutions and new ideas. Connect with those around you and consider collaborative approaches to overcoming common challenges. Working together and leaning into the support of those around you can make all the difference.
CELEBRATE! You and your students have come a long way this year and made growth. Celebrate those accomplishments. Reflecting on how far you have come can be so motivating and give you the extra umph to push forward and see your goals through to the end.
So many good things have happened this year and students are continuing to learn and grow. Kids are working hard to catch up and close gaps that were generated from unfinished learning. Your work is making that possible. May we all push for the homestretch and encourage each other as we do it!