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Are You Ready to Go Back to School?

The summer has been another wonderful season of learning, playing, eating, traveling, and meditating.  The worst part of my summer was getting the omicron variant and staying in bed with a fever, splitting headache, cough, and constant perspiration for 4 days.  The best part of my summer was taking a family road trip to D.C. and spending endless time in the museums.

I attended three conferences, from the ISEEN Summer Institute, learning about the experiential learning framework to a writer’s retreat to dip my toes into a vast ocean of fictional writing.  I organized and hosted two virtual conferences.  I also led a Mandarin language lab at iFLT annual conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

I cleaned up my garage (I moved last October, just imagining all the boxes!), hung up my favorite paintings on the walls, and hired a contractor to remodel our basement.

I bribed my 12 years old son to be a TA in my summer Mandarin class, he was awesome! He led the personalized questions and answers with his peers and killed it.  I was a proud mama! After the same bribery failed, I made him sit in my summer introduction to mindfulness class, which he hated it.  He was my worst student who was so negative, resistant, and disruptive.  I was feeling miserable.

The very same child, how come?

Well, being a TA was fun for him and he developed a sense of pride and responsibility.  Taking the mindfulness class was against his busy, restless, high-energy nature, it was something he was not good at, and therefore he hated it.  In that class, I had to change up so many different activities, I incorporated planting a mindful tree body, that was rooted and relaxed.  I also taught them mindful walking and mindful running, so they wouldn’t think that mindfulness practice was mainly about sitting meditation.  Still, that week, he and I were like to be locked on a tetter-totter: constantly in an up-down battle.  I got frustrated.  His resistance made me more concerned about his well-being, focus attention, and academic success…. Well, you know, once a mom goes down a rabbit hole, anything bad can happen imaginably.

In the end, we compromised.  Ray learned how to put on a mindful tree body to cultivate stillness from within.  I asked myself to be more empathetic toward him to hold a bigger space for him.  I noticed I got “short” with him way more easily than with any of my students.  That was not the mom I wished to be.

As the new school year was approaching, I kept asking him how he felt about going back.  He said he felt nervous and excited.  He was nervous about whether his new teachers would like him.  He was excited to be reunited with his school friends.  As he was describing his feelings to me, I realized how intuitive this child was.  A sense of gratitude rushed over me.

Honestly, after teaching for 20 years, I also felt nervous and excited about going back.  I often get a few weeks of insomnia before school starts, and then a few more weeks after.  What am I nervous about?  It is difficult to pin down a specific thing.  I know I love teaching.  I am having tons of fun in my classroom.  I enjoy seeing the sparks in my student’s eyes, I love to accompany my students on their journey to proficiency.  I guess it’s a feeling of being on a spinning wheel once school begins that overwhelms me.  I am nervous to operate in a survival mode.  The past 2 and a half years were so challenging.  Many of my teacher friends who I talked to have developed various degrees of depression and anxiety.  I am concerned that if no measurement is taken, teachers’ mental health is going to be an epidemic.   At the same time, I am eager to go back.  I love having a routine in life.  I will be relieved to have my son off his devices and be with real human beings.  I look forward to many hallway conversations with many of my inspiring colleagues.  Most importantly, I just love being with students and teaching.

How about you?  Are you ready to go back to school yet?

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