Last night while my son was trying to catch Ho-oh, a video game creature in Pokemon Go, I had to remind him to stop and take a deep breath. He was getting anxious and was wasting his chances to catch it because he was not focusing on the task. This is an important piece of advice even outside of Pokemon Go (which I will say is still a fun game to play with your 7 year old son as you explore the world around you).
During my first couple of years as a teacher, I was given this advice to make sure to take a deep breath at the end of each day. This was to help me focus on the day and to figure out what I could take away from the day, what I did well and what I still needed to work on. I would make sure to spend some time at the end of each day, to sit in a student’s desk, and to reflect on the day. I would take that deep breath and focus, on what I wanted to do and how I could still improve. I would not take that time to get disappointed in myself for the mistakes and the missed opportunities, I could only focus on how I would move forward.
Teaching is not usually a job that allows you to take the time to just stop and take that deep breath in order to focus on our goals, to reflect on our path, and to recenter ourselves as we continue to move forward. It is very easy to get caught up in all of the action of teaching that it can cause you to feel out of breath by the end of the day. We need to just stop for a moment, whenever we can, to take a deep breath and refocus ourselves.
Taking that moment to stop and to just breath, is the only way we can affect the momentum of our work. We can get so caught up in all of the “doing” of teaching, that we just will keep doing what we are doing and may lose sight of the “why” and the “who”. It is easy to get all caught up in all of the content, the tasks, the grading, and such that we forget to make sure we are going towards where we want to go. It is like being stuck in rush hour traffic and you just keep going with the flow of traffic but have no idea where you are going.
So, right now, stop. Take a deep breath. Reflect on the day, on the week, on the year. Do you know your why? Do you know your destination? Don’t get so caught up in the “doing” that you forget to take that breath. You might get so caught up that it all of a sudden is the 4th quarter and you aren’t even sure how you got there. As my son found out last night when he didn’t catch the Pokemon, because he forgot to take that breath and to focus, you might find yourself missing your goal.
To put it another way, as Jimmy Buffett sings – Don’t try to shake it, just nod your head, breathe in, breathe out, move on.