My one word for 2019 is FIT.
The holidays were not my friend when it came to a balanced diet. I lost my will power and gobbled up all the amazing food that people made or gave to me. I was in pure joy, until the pounds piled on after the delicious holiday edibles. I said to myself, “That’s it, you need to lose ten pounds!” Then I thought about that demand and realized that I would be miserable and probably not attain the demand either. So, I changed my mindset and instead of thinking only about a number and what weight I “should” be, I realized I actually wanted to be “fit”, which would lead me to a healthier diet and more exercise. So, my #oneword2019 FIT is broken into three areas that we all need! It will be my MAP for the year.
M – Mental
A – Academic
P – Physical
Mentally FIT – this includes self care and caring for others. We all need to take a little time for ourselves, this is very difficult for many of us. We are educators which means we are givers, therefore we are often giving and not tending to our own needs. In my free time, I enjoy work, I really like to work all the time, so it is a challenge for me to step away from work. My plan is to dedicate some time once a week to do an activity that I enjoy. Some of the simple things I really like are going to the library to read, getting a fun coffee drink, and going out for a dinner. Kara Knollmeyer, an assistant principal from St. Louis, recently posted a video on Twitter and her comment was, “I took myself out to dinner, by myself”. I laughed when I watched her, but it is so important to do something for yourself that you enjoy! Good for Kara!
I have some friends that meditate and use meditation apps, they assure me that is helps them calm their mind and focus. I want to be more mindful of taking a step back and slowing things down a bit. Make sure you do something you enjoy such as a hobby, many time you will find it easy to relate your hobby to your students and they will be excited to know you have interests outside of school. Life is so busy, it is easy to forget all the wonderful things happening. I have started to keep a grateful journal and this is powerful when you read back on all the amazing things in your life that you appreciate.
I feel great when I do something for someone else, especially if that person does not have a lot or is not expecting it. The research shows that generosity has benefits for the giver as well the person on the receiving end. I was with a group of my teachers and we watched a disabled person come into the restaurant, sit by himself and have dinner alone. I asked our server a little bit about him I also informed her that I wanted to cover his tab without him knowing who bought his dinner. He was in utter shock and had never had anything like that happen before to him. It made my night to be able to pay it forward, the school psychologist was with us, she started to tear up at our table. My nephew passed away as a child and he was handicapped, so I have a huge soft spot with people with disabilities and it really makes me sad when people are not patient with some people. The impatient or even unkind folks forget to realize how fortunate they are in their lives, I think they should start a grateful journal! So, any way you can “pay it forward”, I suggest you do it, the feeling is amazing.
According to the American Psychiatric Association (2019) half of all cases of anxiety begin as early as age 8. How can we make our classrooms and schools a calm and safe place for students? Many districts are looking at the benefits of Social Emotional Learning, edutopia has a post on 13 Powerful SEL Activities.
Academically FIT – continuing to learn and grow is good for the mind and soul! I want to make sure that I continue to grow my Professional Learning Network (PLN) more than ever this year. I have been joining more Twitter chats, meeting with educators to discuss strategies, coaching educators, and listening to podcasts. I am going to read more professional books this year and I really enjoy being in book study groups, it is awesome to discuss new learning and to hear other perspectives, this leads to incredible professional collaboration. Reading and staying current with research and professional topics is critical for growth. I work with a fantastic group of facilitators (principal coaches) and we are starting a Twitter chat this week called #HILchat (High Impact Leadership) to collaborate more on literacy and leadership. I am excited to see how this experience will expand our thinking and knowledge.
Physically FIT – when I was Director of Teaching and Learning my staff would walk when they had the chance, on a break, lunch or even find times to meet to walk after hours. I convinced myself I was too busy to walk and that it would not make a difference anyway, so I worked through lunches and any other time that they were walking. Well, once I transitioned into consulting and had a more flexible schedule, I looked at things with an appreciative lens and decided to walk during some of my time. I started walking 30 minutes a day and to my surprise, I felt better and lost 18 pounds. I still kick myself for not walking with my staff, I am convinced that it would have helped me have better health and my assumption is that I would have been a more attentive leader. I am going to continue to walk at least 30 minutes a day for 2019 and try to lift some weights as well.
I have a principal friend that is running and I am so impressed, of course, I have convinced myself that I cannot run, but his group of #fitleaders are running and I admire them! I secretly aspire to be in this group someday, my friends would be completely shocked if I turned into a runner, I would be too! There are a variety of choices for exercise, you just need to pick something and start.
Physically FIT also includes eating healthier and making sure that the entire family has healthy choices. Eating well and being active can help your mental state. There are so many benefits to eating healthy and taking time out to exercise, there is no excuse not to do it. I often said, “I don’t have time”, that is not an excuse, we are all busy, you can find time. Break down your day, write everything you do down in 15 minutes segments, you will see there are some time wasters in that schedule where you can squeeze in a 15 minute time to walk or more. The truly dedicated runners and my fit friends, get up early so they can fit this critical component into their lives. According to Piercy, Trojano, and Ballard (2018) almost 80% of adults and adolescents in the United States are insufficiently active. We need to change this statistic and get moving!
I wish you all the best in 2019! Just remember “FIT” is a area that you can MAP out for the year easily with a few simple steps. No excuses – it is time to be FIT!