- Take on teaching in 2022. Teach what you love.
- Spend time looking at the stars and wondering about the universe.
- Get out in the open and surround yourself with green.
- Be active and take care of yourself.
Let’s give some thought to teaching in 2022. It seems that it might be a worthwhile way to spend a bit of time. It doesn’t take too long, and it isn’t too hard to make a list of the challenges of this profession. But that’s not what I want to focus on. I’m not going to pour gas on the fire (don’t you love the word conflagrate?), but rather shed light on why you’ve stumbled into the greatest role.
Teaching is the greatest way to have an impact on the future. If there are things about this world that don’t sit well with you, then you are doing the right thing as a teacher to bring about change. For me, it’s climate issues and our ever-evolving energy needs. We are in the dawn of a paradigm shift in how we power our lives. And I’m super pumped to have the chance to influence the momentum.We are teachers, but first, we are human beings who need care. We have to be intentional about coming out of the fire and smelling the roses. Click To Tweet
What do you love to teach?
What about you? I wrote about this in my book, Beyond the Classroom. What are the things you love to teach? Is it literature or poetry? Drawing, painting, or languages? Physical activity and motor skills? History of humanity, the geography of our dynamic planet? Space? What I have found is when I weave MY theme into what I teach, then whatever task or requirement set forth by the ministry or the administration can be dealt with through a lens that excites ME! And an excited teacher always results in excited students.
So that would be my first thought on teaching in 2022. In what seems to be a selfish motivation, focusing on what you love to teach, actually results in a very positive classroom environment. Think about that for a moment or two. Do you agree with me?
However, I have some other thoughts about how we can thrive as teachers in 2022 and beyond. All of them would revolve around being intentional. Particularly being intentional with your own well-being. Here are some suggestions coming from someone who practices what he preaches and has found these to work.
I’ll start with my favourite topic…space. We hear a lot about inclusivity in schools, so what is more inclusive than the stars? They are available for all of us every night! When there is an eclipse or a passing comet, we are all included in the chance to witness nature’s grandest show. If the ISS passes overhead, anybody can watch and marvel at the ingenuity of humanity. The stars call to us, and all we need to do is look up.
Have you taken the time to look up at the stars and allow your curiosity to take you to places far removed from your classroom? Have you pondered the questions such as how far? How many? How big? Or how old? And then have you taken your inspired inquisitiveness and shared that moment with your students, encouraging them to do the same so that a grand discussion can follow? Space is not just about rocket science. In fact, rocket science does not have to be rocket science. Perhaps now more than ever, you should allow space to affect you in a positive and refreshing way.
The Colour Green
Another suggestion for teaching in 2022 has to do with the colour green. Not as it relates to renewable energy but everything to do with trees. Have you ever taken a forest bath? Don’t worry, it isn’t something you could get arrested for. It’s the act of being among the trees and allowing your senses to take it all in.
Did you know that the smells of the forest are actually chemicals the trees emit called phytoncides? The trees emit them as a form of chemical defense against insects and disease, but to the human, they bring about a state of mind lower in stress and higher levels of serotonin, reducing inflammatory conditions and bringing about overall peace. It’s true! Be among the trees and intentionally seek out the opportunities to bathe in the forest. Refresh yourself weekly, and see how your stress levels in the classroom diminish.
And lastly, be intentional about your activity levels. Did you know that today, scientists are looking at aging as a disease that can be cured? We used to blame our genetics and our family lineage, but there is a new buzzword called epigenetics. This is describing the external factors that turn on and off certain genes as we age.
Is teaching aging you? Here is what the science is saying. Be sure to elevate your heart rate every day for 20 minutes by walking or exercising in a way that you are comfortable with. If you can add in some resistance training, all the better. One researcher said to simulate being chased by a lion for 15 minutes per day. Other factors include alternating hot and cold showers, minimum of 8 hours of sleep, and intermittent fasting. All these are good for your epigenetics, allowing you to age gracefully.[scroll down to keep reading]
Being Aware of Your Health
Of course, do your own research, but are you being intentional about your health? Have you made yourself aware of how much control you have over your health? You see, we are teachers, but first, we are human beings who need care. We have to be intentional about coming out of the fire and smelling the roses. So can I suggest to you that you use the summer months to establish some routines of sleep, nutrition, exercise, getting outdoors, and contemplating the universe? I want you to have a long and influential career as a teacher, and these are some of the ways that I have been able to do so.
Make the opportunity as well to listen to episode Episode 54 of my podcast, Science360. It’s a conversation with a wonderful acquaintance of mine, Jess LeBlanc, where she describes how to burn bright, not out. Also, I was interviewed on a podcast called Earthy Chats. My episode was #13 and some of these same thoughts come out in that conversation.
I hope you have a refreshing and intentional break this summer. Enjoy!
About Tim Stephenson
Tim has been teaching in Langley, British Columbia for over 25 years. He’s a science teacher, particularly astronomy, which is a course he has developed into a full credit senior science course. In his school, he is known as AstroStephenson. Way back at the beginning of his teaching career, he wrote a book, really to himself, that contained his teaching philosophy. It was a project that would define his career. He is a possibility thinker, a dreamer and a doer, an innovator.
From the very beginning, he knew that he wanted to teach by putting students and relationships ahead of content, and putting experiences and emotions ahead of curriculum. The result has been a long career of rich and rewarding experiences for both himself and his students, the pinnacle being in 2018 when he was the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence.
Now Tim would like to share with you his thoughts and experiences on teaching with the hope that by reflecting better, you will feel empowered to try new things, teach in new ways and see the possibilities that are there for all of us in the teaching profession.