As this article is written, 22 days of school remain this year. When did you begin your countdown for the beginning of summer vacation? Did you start with 100 days to go, or did you wait until 40?
In a school year of all school years, more than likely you have a countdown. It may be a private, only-in-your-head-countdown, or maybe it is plastered on your wall and you rip a day off each morning. Either way, you are hoping and looking for something. Administrators and activities directors are all looking for “it” – rest and hope.
Making it through a school year in a pandemic is an accomplishment all by itself. The constant schedule changes, protocol changes and focusing on what is best for kids is exhausting. The concept of coming out of a pandemic and quarantining caused people to slow down – for most people. However, not so for school administrators or activities directors. This is when the job ramped up, taking with it personal time and peace of mind.
Now, the first item on the agenda must be rest. Not the kind of rest where you sit on the couch with your feet up and answer emails. Quiet rest, which means no electronics, no music and no television.
Yes, it is time to make summer plans! You need to be aware of the need to rejuvenate. This is not about going on vacation with the family. This summer is the summer you need to plan for you. The first thing on your full daily agenda is to schedule rest. This may be mid-day for 20 minutes to get out of your office and sit on a bench – no phone, no laptop. Sit and watch people, nature and just take it all in. And don’t forget to schedule bedtime. You may need to set your alarm to remind you it is time to go to bed.
Make sure your rest time allows for silence. Sometimes, this is difficult and weird, but just “be” for a few moments in your day. Early morning is a fabulous time for silence. The calm before chaos of your day. Phones have not started ringing yet and emails are still in sleep mode. Take the silence, embrace it, use it to get you in the right frame of mind. The silence is meant to rejuvenate you – not to make you think about all you have to get done. There is a fine line between silence for rest and rejuvenation, and silence that causes angst and stress. Try hard to let your mind rest during the silent time of your day.
Another way to get rest and rejuvenation is to take one day a week for you. It does not need to be Sunday; maybe it is a Thursday. Take that day and do not check emails or answer calls during the summer. The reality of this is hard, especially for administrators and activities directors who have all information directed to their phones.
Maybe you can’t take a whole day, but you can take a morning or afternoon each week. Keep that day sacred. Do not be in school. If this is difficult, then plan something for this day. Maybe a tee time, or a trip to the beach or a hiking trip. Resist the urge to check your phone and emails. Sometimes, being physically busy makes it harder to check electronics.
When planning your summer getaway (and yes, you need to get away), think about what is feasible for your situation. If you are able to be gone for a week, do it. If you absolutely need to, allow yourself to check emails on Wednesday of the week… but remember this is about you resting and rejuvenating. If you are unable to be gone for a week, consider going somewhere that cell service and internet access is questionable and stay for a couple days.
Once you have been purposeful with creating rest time, allow yourself to dive into hoping. As tentative as you might feel about the fall and whether normalcy will return, create an environment filled with hope. Hope that all the students return and that activities are in full swing. None of us can predict what September will look like, but administrators need to be hopeful and positive. Embrace what lies ahead, whether it is “normal” or restrictive. The students and athletes depend on your positivity for them to be hopeful and positive.
Christopher Reeve once stated after his accident that left him as a quadriplegic, “Once you choose hope, anything is possible.” Administrators and activities directors around the nation need to lead the staff and students into a new wave of hope. It will be a year of taking what we have learned and weathered and using it for good. It may be as simple as just appreciating being in the buildings again. The joy of making real eye contact with your colleagues is something to hold onto. Appreciating that the parking lot is full again and you have to park far away – things like this should make you smile. Your old complaints are now embraced into moments of joy.
Remember how you made it through the pandemic? You had support from administration, staff, students, community members and others. Use that momentum to jump start your fall. Administrators and activities directors have to be rejuvenated to have the outlook needed for the district Lorenzo Dozier once wrote,
“Every test in our life makes us bitter or better, every problem comes to break us or make us. The choice is ours whether we become victim or victor!”
Choose to be the victor. Choose to be hopeful. Plan to have a fantastic fall, no matter what it looks like. You made it through a pandemic school year, you can do anything!
Lisa Myran-Schutte, CMAA, is the athletic/activities director at Pine Island (Minnesota) High School after serving in a similar capacity at Houston (Minnesota) High School for several years. She is a member of the High School Today Publications Committee.