This year, for the first time in my working life I took long service leave. I had 4 1/2 months of doing what I wanted to do, no bells, no reports, no phone calls, no timetable or timetabling issues. I chose to remove myself totally from the learning community that is home for a significant part of the each day. I didn’t contact my work colleagues and I deleted my work email from my devices. I returned to a past life- construction. I took on many building projects, large and small. I travelled and experienced nature, I played sports and read books. I became disconnected from a life that was all consuming.
When I returned to work in Term 2, I found myself lost. I felt as though I was no longer part of a community that had moved on without me. I found that I wasn’t connecting with my students, colleagues and it hurt a lot. I questioned what I was doing and whether I had the energy to re-engage. I felt like a new student in a new school.
We are currently just finishing our Term 3 reports. For educators, it can be a stressful time. Juggling marking, classroom teaching, report writing as well as everything else that we need to do each day. We notice the kids are a bit more “unsettled” and seem”tired. We are disconnected.
I wonder if they are reflecting us….Do they see us as being disconnected from them? Are we so focused on meeting deadlines that we forget what we are there for? Are we so engaged in everything else that they read the signals as “we don’t care”? How many times have I said as I began a lesson “I am a bit frazzled today, I am madly trying to write your reports”? Do the students read this as “I better not bother Mr Pearce today, he’s cranky, I will just be compliant not engaged”?
As educators we cannot afford to be disconnected from our students. If our energy is being used elsewhere then we must question whether that is worth it. To be disconnected is a horrible experience, it has made me think, it has made evaluate and it must make me change.