New Year’s Eve is the traditional time to reflect back on the year that was and then resolve to make changes for the year ahead. In education we tend to do this also in June and September to mark the end and start of the new school year. However, as we say goodbye to 2018, it’s a good time to look back at what lessons we’ve learned. Here are a few of my own.
Goodbye Fitbit, Hello Clock Radio!
After wearing a Fitbit for over a year, one thing I noticed was that unlike most people, I moved less instead of more. I became less fit! I found that I was paying attention to the Fitbit to tell me whether or not I was moving enough instead of listening to my body. Since taking it off, I am more conscious of when I am low in energy, when my body feels sluggish, and when I need to run to relieve the tension I am carrying. Without the Fitbit, I am far more mindful of how my body feels and respond to that instead of what it says on an app.
In 2018, our Comprehensive School Health Committee identified sleep as the health issue that we would tackle in 2019. Report after report indicated that our students are chronically under-slept. In fact, all of us are getting less sleep than we did even 10 years ago resulting in poorer physical and mental health outcomes. In our research, we discovered that one way to improve sleep was to keep the smartphone out of the bedroom. To test the theory and walk the talk, I moved my charger from beside my bed and replaced it with a clock radio. You know what? It’s true, my sleep has improved! I no longer am tempted to look at my phone if I wake in the middle of the night and I wake up more rested when the sounds of the radio come on (CBC Radio 1, actually).
The Instant Pot
Okay, I know this isn’t really education related, but holy cow – I love my Instant Pot! I had heard people rave about this appliance before, but only bought it because it was a good deal on Amazon Prime day. OMG, it is the appliance I didn’t know I needed! What does it do, you ask? What doesn’t it do? It sautés, it slow cooks, it pressure cooks, it makes yoghurt, and most importantly, it saves time. After putting dinner in the Instant Pot, I will often do a workout while it’s cooking. The Instant Pot has revolutionized the way I cook and what I cook – I use it 2 to 3 times per week and make things I would normally never even attempt (think restaurant quality cheesecake and dulce de leche). I think I have convinced at least a dozen or so people in the district to get one and jump on the Instant Pot bandwagon. It’s worth getting it just for the cheesecake alone!
Homophobia and Transphobia Are Still Alive and Well
On a more serious note, 2018 taught me that our work in SOGI is needed as much as ever. The lead up to the civic elections around the province saw an increase in homophobic and transphobic responses that were based on untruths, misinformation, and a lack of education. Recent conversations with friends and family outside of education have also highlighted for me that many people are still unaware of or even reject the existence of the discrimination and violence LGBTQ people are still facing. However, on the positive side, there has also been a more visible showing of those who support SOGI diversity as was evident by our large entry in the 2018 Pride Parade.
Looking Forward to 2019
While I think resolutions are a bit overrated, the beginning of the new year is a good time to highlight changes that we want to see in the coming days. I’m looking forward to at least the following initiatives.
Sleep Week and District (North Shore) Wide Pyjama Day
As I mentioned above, the Comprehensive School Health Committee (made of community, school district, and DPAC members) identified improvement in sleep habits as our health target for this year. To bring awareness to the need to change habits, public schools in West Vancouver and North Vancouver will be participating in Sleep Week from February 18 to 22 in 2019. Each day, one tip for better sleep will be highlighted with the hope that all of us will change habits to increase the amount and quality of sleep we are getting. Watch for staff, students, and community members across the North Shore coming to school and work in their pyjamas to bring greater awareness to this campaign.
West Van Run
We take Wellness seriously in West Van and one way we promote this is through promotion of the West Van Run http://www.westvanrun.com/. For the past few years several of us have committed to walking or running the 5K or 10K community race to promote physical fitness for staff and students. It’s a great reminder to keep moving and stay physically and mentally fit. However, self-care is more than just exercise and I’ll be writing more about how and why educators should engage in self-care practices.
SOGI and Pride 2019
I’m really looking forward to seeing more growth in the awareness and action around SOGI education. And really, it’s not the kids who need the educating – it’s the adults. As Chris Kennedy pointed out in his recent blog post (https://cultureofyes.ca/2018/12/29/my-top-3-lists-for-2018/), SOGI isn’t much of an issue for students. Instead we need to continue working on enlightening the adults so that we might come to understand what the kids already know. However, I’m hopeful that we’ll catch up and that our 2019 entry in the Pride Parade will be even bigger than ever.
There are so many more things to look forward to in this new year. This is a great time to take stock of what we value and want to keep; let go of those things, ideas, and beliefs that no longer serve us; and make plans for what we want to change and grow. Happy New Year, everyone!