I work hard; it’s a strength of mine. Just like all strengths, it also can become a devastating and consuming weakness. This break has been really good for me so far. I’m happy to report that aside from the posts and a little reading, I’ve been doing a lot for myself. Everyday should be a time for reflection and resolutions, but this time of year puts those ideas in the foreground.
A dear colleague of mine sent me an article several weeks ago, and I just got around to reading it. It’s an article on Ed Week about an American teacher who moved to Finland and began teaching there (EdWeek is free to sign up for online). This teacher learned a lot about himself and the American way of teaching (being, really). Throughout the day in Finland, there are breaks for the kids- after every lesson. Not only do the children have breaks, the teachers do too. And the teachers use those breaks to rest and socialize instead of cramming more planning into every free minute.
It’s so American of me to work through my breaks and my lunches and my weekends. Reflecting on it makes me realize that there’s so much I’m missing in between– especially the rejuvenation and the love for life. It makes me think of my German friends and how they don’t work when they’re not at work; they keep their emails separate. My way of working will lead to burn-out; there’s no question. This idea, of course, is bigger than just me– but I can begin the change with me and maybe even at my school. A few more relaxed teachers will result in more relaxed and independent children. There needs to be more time for children to play and discover the world instead of having it all delivered in filtered, structured, and measurable lessons.
Despite all of the logic, I’m conflicted– what does that mean for accountability and how will that be measured? Finland consistently scores well beyond the United States, but that has only driven our system further from the mindset that helps children grow. Solutions? I suppose one step at a time.