"And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer."
—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
This quote from Fitzgerald is never far from my mind when summer arrives, and tends to stay with me throughout the summer season. In fact, I think I find it more relevant the more the summer develops, as this season seems to allow for the remarkable possibility that everything can be continually made new.
As teachers, support staff, administrators, and any number of other education professionals, we find ourselves in the unique position of being able to start a ‘new year’ whilst the sun shines. Most other workers find themselves attempting to ‘begin again’ and cast off the strife of the year past in the depths of a wintery January. But we are afforded the luxury of summer reflection and rebooting (well-earned, of course, but a luxury nonetheless).
As the sun shines (mostly) and the breezes are (largely) stilled and summer nights stretch endlessly into the distant haze of the summer break, we have the perfect opportunity to ask ourselves vital, meaningful and potentially life-changing questions. The possibilities are infinite and the phrasing unprescribed, but the purpose of such summer reflections remains the same year upon year:
- What has gone well this year and why?
- What has not gone well and why?
- What do I need to maintain?
- What do I need to leave behind?
- Where am I going now?
These questions are the ones we all, knowingly or not, mull over throughout the summer break. We begin to sift through the year that has gone and separate the good from the...not so good; the happy from the sad; the growth from the loss. We begin to untense and allow ourselves to let go of the events, people and feelings that need to be learned from and left to float away on the gentle turn of a new page.
The challenge is not, therefore, to reflect, but rather to react. We do not begin our new year, as most of society does, in the depths of slushy, dark mornings and cold, dreary nights. Instead, we begin our new year with the summer - refreshed (we hope) and, thanks to a cruel meteorological twist, usually in the midst of beautiful weather! We have the summer on our side as we return to our work. What better chance than that to start well?
So for now, revel in the summer. Be content and let go of the weariness born from a job well done. Shed tears if needed for the losses and the heartaches, and laugh joyfully for the many triumphs and jubilations. Then, take a deep breath, and remember that you are "beginning over again with the summer.”
Listen to the blog here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrGwdl8aWSI