Summer break is over, now what?! (Tips to help make teaching, and life, more enjoyable).

I don’t mean to sound dramatic, actually yes I do, but Summer is over. Well, not officially. Summer BREAK is over. Yes. The break that teachers and students get from the last day of school in June to the last week in August. (A much-NEEDED break let me tell you). However, starting tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. that break is over with, and many teachers like myself, start the 2019-2020 school year.

Here is one question I will be continually asking myself as I prepare to embark on another school year adventure. (I called it an adventure purposely 🧘🏻‍♂️). Even if you are not a teacher, you can use this question yourself whenever you feel stressed or lacking motivation with your job or in your life.

What’s my why?

This is a question I am going to put on my desk and remind myself daily. There is one sole reason I became a teacher, and that is because I love to help people, and for many other teachers I bet the answer is similar. Last year was THE most stressful and most challenging school year I’ve had to date. (I am starting my 7th year teaching and 9th in the district). And it really can be traced to one simple thing, I forgot my “why”. My why is the rewarding feeling I get from the positive relationships I form with all of my students. My why is the joy I receive when students shout and wave and give me daps (a form of greeting). My why is the satisfaction I get when students come back after finishing middle school and tell me how much they missed my class. My why’s are not difficult answers. There are loads more. I want to see them learn, grow, and ultimately become compassionate, well rounded adults that are happy with themselves and put forth great energy into the world to make the world a better place. My why is to change the current trajectory of the world and planet. (Our earth is getting worse if you haven’t noticed, have you seen or heard about the Amazon fires? Or the amount of plastic and garbage in our Oceans? But those topics are for another time). My mission this year is not to forget that. No matter what my bosses or colleagues or anyone says or does, I will not forget my why’s.

There is a big IF with that question. And with teachers, that “if” is stress. With any profession its stress really. And overtime if stress builds up then our physical bodies won’t be able to mentally respond to asking the “What’s our why?” question. It won’t be motivating for us. So here is where the important part lies. You have to put yourself first. 🤯 Yup, that’s it. (Mind blowing right). How do you do that you ask? By asking more questions. (Duhhh 😝). What makes you feel alive? What brings you happiness? What brings you peace? Answer those questions and bring them with you into your work day. Don’t say you will TRY to do those things, try implies a doubt that you are going to fail. Say you WILL and CAN do those things. For me, its simply being more present during my lunch. This means enjoying my food. Not talking to anyone or checking social media. (or taking pictures of my healthy lunch. I mean it I promise 😂). It means scheduling 5-10 minutes of my lunch/plan time to meditating. It means bringing plants and salt lamps to put in my office and desk to make it more zen and peaceful. It means being more conscious and aware of shielding and protecting my sacred energy with other colleagues and my students. It means being more aware of what I’m communicating and how I am communicating to staff and students. It means letting my inner child out and ENJOYING my time teaching Physical Education. (You know actually having fun. Not like in Remember the Titans when Petey says during orientation, “Zero fun, sir”. Always have to hit you with a movie reference). It doesn’t have to be complicated. But for some reason, we as humans complicate it. We do things backwards, actually. Instead of using work as a means to LIVE LIFE, we value and prioritize work as our life. That’s not how it should be. Life should be fun. And work should be fun as well. Shame on the system for the convincing us otherwise.

If teaching, or whatever job you have, or your general life isn’t bringing you satisfaction and joy, then ask yourself those questions, ask yourself “What’s your why”, and accept whatever answers come your way.

I promise that in the process, you will learn and bring positive change to not only your work, but to your entire life. And that is the main goal.

Good luck to all of my educators, counselors, support staff, security, and school staff that will be taking on the 2019-2020 school year tomorrow. You got this. And if not, scroll back up and re-read.

As always, thank you for reading.

Peace and love,

D-rob 😎🤙✌️❤️

When it’s time to be selfish

This summer has been amazing.  It’s been relaxing, exciting and fun, with some small periods of stress sprinkled in the mix.  Two bachelor parties out of state, two stags I helped throw, one wedding including the best man’s speech for my twin bro (yes, I have a twin, and yes, my speech was phenomenal), and to top it off, some serious improvements on myself.  Oh yeah.  BIG TIME improvements. To the naked eye, they may not be as big, but to me, they’ve represented a shift in my viewpoint of what being happy truly means.  And you know what that is, being God damn selfish (sorry Mom I know you hate when I curse). Let me explain.

My entire life I have been a people pleaser.  I am a “go with the flow” type person, super laid back, the type to want to just have good vibes and avoid conflict.  Growing up this turned me into a “Yes man”, always wanting to do the right thing, to never let the other person down, to seek that sense of approval.  I think this view also represents the current state of a majority of people who use social media.  We are always seeking some type of validation for our posts, whether its on our main feed, our stories, whatever the case may be.  I myself also fall into this mix, and throughout my adult life, I’ve restrained from some of the posts I may or may not have put because I was afraid that it wouldn’t get that “approval” I was subconsciously seeking.   I don’t know what finally switched, it could have been a variety of factors, but sometime during the last few months, heck even the last year, I started being selfish.  Selfish with my thoughts.  Selfish with my communication.  Selfish with my time. Selfish with what I would say “Yes” too. Selfish with what I would post. Everything.

Here’s what I started to notice.  Freedom.  Freedom from the people who would take advantage of me. Freedom from my thoughts of any self-doubt.  Freedom from the opinion of others.  Freedom from the forced validation and competition of social media.  I started actually LIVING for me. No fear. No competition. Just doing what was right and best for ME. And in doing this, some of my passions that have been “dormant” or almost “hiding” have started to reemerge.  New passion and career paths have started to motivate me to new goals. I’m excited at everything I plan to accomplish within the next five years.

Heck, even in writing this, I feel back to my true creative self. I started this small blog because one I always wanted to help people, but two, because I LOVE TO FUCKING WRITE (sorry again Mom but the “f” word was needed in that sentence). So here I am again, being selfish in not only this blog post, but in how I’m spending my Sunday afternoon. I’m eating a salad, I’m drinking a seltzer, and I’m sharing my thoughts with the world (or to the 20 people who actually decide to read this), and yes, I couldn’t be happier.

Peace be the journey,

-Derek

(Always have to throw in a movie reference) 🤙

Arm me with ______.

Arm me with a voice.  Arm me with support.  Arm me with books.  Arm me with love.  Arm me with a broader understanding of the countless stressors these kids face in today’s society.  Arm me with politicians who are intelligent enough to realize guns are not the answer.  If arming me with a gun is your solution to the “mass school shootings epidemic” we are now living and teaching in, than you are part of the problem.

What recently transpired in Parkland, Florida was tragic, every mass shooting is.  But the answer politicians are proposing is seriously flawed.  There WAS a trained resource officer who was working on site that day at the school in Florida.  He WAS armed with the weapon that politicians suggest teachers should someday carry.  How that person reacted in that situation however is something that CAN NOT be predicted.  Seventeen people still lost their lives that day.  Who knows if the school resource officer would have been the 18th? That is not for me or us to say.  I will and cannot judge or criticize his actions as I have never been in a position similar to the one he was thrown into on February 14 of last week.  It is solely unfair to him or any of the school resource officers and security personnel across the nation who simply work hard day in and day out to help make our schools better and safer places.  But this is unfortunately a prime example of why arming staff in the Schools CAN NOT be the solution.

Countless reports have come out exclaiming the numerous times that the shooter exhibited “warning signs” prior to committing his heinous act. There were various reports from the schools he’s attended, different write ups from doctors, police reports, social media posts, and even threats that all showed signs of him venturing down a path of unspeakable violence. Even the FBI had a warning about him, and they did NOTHING! Doesn’t that anger you? It makes my damn blood boil. They had all the evidence to prevent this massacre from happening but did nothing to stop it. Or they simply did not take it serious enough but regardless, they could have. They should have been better. They need to be better. Everyone needs to be better. Teachers included.

We need to be better at recognizing the early signs of depression in our students, better at greeting and keeping positive relationships with them, better at teaching empathy and compassion in the classroom, better at working together with counselors and support staff when seeing at risk students. All of it needs to be better! Don’t we see that future lives depend on it?! I don’t need to sit around and wait for the next school shooting to happen to understand that this problem will keep continuing if we keep doing what we have always done! When will our nation’s leaders realize that more emphasis needs to be placed on improving our young students’ mental and social health far more than the current emphasis of receiving specific scores on these outdated standardized tests? All of it needs to change. And it starts from the top.

Arm me with a gun?

Nah,

ARM ME WITH CHANGE.

The Intro

The ability to help people has always provided me with a sense of accomplishment that few things in life can deliver.

::Cue beginning to Jay-Z track, Public Service Announcement::
“Allow me to reintroduce myself, my name is HOV, H to the O-V…”
No, no it’s not. It’s Derek, or “D-rob” for short. But you should know that already. And if you don’t, please stop reading now, and go on over to the “Menu” and click “Who is D-rob”. This will give you a better insight to my backstory and who I am as a person.

Ok, back to the original program. Excuse the music lyric. My mind is 80% movie quotes and song lyrics. If you love both movies and music, there is a great chance of you enjoying these references. If not, well, um, I don’t know what to tell you but you’re seriously missing out.
The reason I started this blog was because of this incredible passion and drive to write. I began to formulate thoughts and opinions and ideas that are simply too illustrious to be shared in the 280 characters Twitter now allows, or for the ever unpopular and scrutinized long “Facebook status rants”, that only opens yourself to comments from people who you haven’t talked too since 11th grade Chemistry.
My second and more important reason I started this blog was to help people. Helping people has been in my blood for as long as I can remember. Helping others was the reason why I became a teacher, and will be sharing with you in posts later down the road some wild and crazy stories I have that will bring you a broader sense of appreciation to what us educators encounter on a daily basis. The ability to help people has always provided me with a sense of accomplishment that few things in life can deliver. (Well besides great pizza, that always delivers).
My next post, “The Heart of a Lion”, will be my most challenging to write. I am going to take you through my past journey through the Health world as a series of illnesses led me across a path I thought I would never had to travel. That path transformed my body physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and I strongly believe that path was given to me so I could help other people who are facing similar battles in their own lives. Remember, we are all in this together and…
::Cue end of the track::
“…Only God can judge me, so I’m gone, either love me, or leave me alone” – Jay-Z.