I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Turning the Corner... Again

The negatives of this school year seem to flood me sometimes. I almost drown. Something always seems to pull me back up - a week - or maybe two - later. I've turned yet another corner on this school year journey, and I wanted to share some ideas that have helped me. Each time I need to get out of the quagmire, I find something different that helps me resurface.

Gratitude - I am one of the most privileged people I know. I have a job, insurance, a roof over my head, heat, working faucets, money to pay my bills, food in the fridge and pantry, clothes, a bed, a working vehicle, health, multiple masks, and lots of love. Sometimes when I feel I've hit "bottom," I realize it's not anywhere near "bottom." There are so very many people who are not in my situation. So many people have had their lives upended by this pandemic. Just last week, I heard one of our custodians chatting with someone, and she called this pandemic (for those at our school, at least) an "inconvenience." Yes. Teaching in a pandemic is a real sucker of an inconvenience. When I refocus like this, I am able to see all I have, and it gives me strength to head back into that school building one more time the next day. As long as I can keep myself masked and six feet from students and staff, I can continue on this path.

Less Social Media - I've cut down on Facebook (checking maybe once a week), Instagram & TikTok (once every three days or so), Twitter (mostly in the AM only), and solo games on my phone (the daily challenge only). This has helped me decrease worry, aggravation, envy, and thinking I have nothing "good" to post - because I don't feel the need to post. With less time for everything, cutting down this time on media has helped me remember why I got on these platforms to begin with. If I want to check in on a family member, sure, I can check Facebook, or I can actually call them. If I want to check in with students, I'll go through the updates on Instagram and TikTok. If I want to learn and share that learning, I'll check Twitter. What's also helped me is not checking what's "trending." When I catch my news in the morning, I'll get information on what's important, not what's "trending." Not playing so many games on my phone has helped me have more time for my family, for reading, and for sitting and relaxing. It's also helped me not be bombarded by advertisements. 

Reading - I'm reading so much more. Nonfiction, biographies, books my nephew suggests, books my students suggest, books I've wanted to read... I turn off my tech by 8pm, and I open a book. I get in a solid hour of reading (if I don't fall asleep on the couch), and it helps my mind relax before heading to bed.

Breathing - I'm learning to close my eyes and take deep breaths. Even in front of my students. Taking that time helps me realize that so much of this life is "small stuff," and we're not meant to sweat the small stuff. In that moment, I know I am healthy, safe, and so blessed to be able to take breaths. Sometimes I step outside alone (even in the cold) and breathe in... then out. When I'm out exercising, sometimes I simply stop... to breathe. When the sun is out, I face the sun and remember I'm just a speck in this vast world, and I can only do my best. 

Time - Once I realize what day of the week it is, I also check the date. The days just keep moving. They won't stop for me or for you. There is only so much time in a day - just like every other year. I do what I can, and I make sure I spend more time with my family than I do with work when I am home. I am in the moment at home, because the moments are fleeting. I am practicing being more in the moment at work, listening more than speaking. Soaking in all the funny things the kids share, the vulnerability, and the lessons we're all learning.

Some mantras I've used this year...

  • Connect with the kids.
  • Right here, right now - it's what matters.
  • Shake it off.
  • I am grateful to have a job - with benefits!
  • I am healthy. Those I love are healthy.
  • Breathe.
  • I am enough.
  • I am doing the best I can.
  • I am fair, and I am kind.
  • Try to not complain - listen, instead.
  • Let it go.
  • I am learning so much.
What is helping you turn the corner when you get bogged down this year?