We have some time before the ferry departure, so we stop at a little cafe on Captiva Island to fuel up. We get our orders and sit at the shabby table outside. Next to us, headset on and phone in hand, a tanned local man in his 50’s is making one business phone call after another. How nice must it be to live in paradise, own a business, and do office at a coffee shop located just down the road from the spacious house you live in I thought.
As we’re sipping our cappuccinos brainstorming ways to fend off any alligators we might encounter on Kayo Costa, the man stands up, walks toward, and rejoins his wife and two teenage Yankee cap wearing daughters eating breakfast at the restaurant next door, and I realize he’s not a local at all. He’s a husband and a father on vacation in Florida with his family.
“Wow,” I say to my wife. “That guy’s on vacation with his family making business phone call after phone call while they eat breakfast without him.”
“I’ve seen several such families already,” replies Kasia in her unsurprised psychologist voice.
“Damn. That’s pretty sad,” I conclude and I take another sip of the frothy milk topped bliss.
Sad indeed, but just a few days before my wife felt compelled, and rightfully so, to ask me to leave work behind when we go on our spring break vacation.
I was reluctant. I love writing. It doesn’t feel like work.
I had plans to write a few posts while she’s putting Adam to sleep at night. I was afraid that after writing almost daily, I’ll lose the momentum, my writing muscle will atrophy, and my readers will abandon me. “Let go Oskar,” says the voice in my head and I resist.
I wanted to edit the book I’m writing in spare time, whatever that means. My goal is to publish 3 books by the end of 2017. I know I can do it, but there’s no time to waste right? “Let go Oskar,” the voice repeats, but it’s hard!
I didn’t do any of these things and I’m glad, but I did read a little. I came across the quote in the picture above while reading Denis Sheeran’s Instant Relevance and immediately connected the dots. I understood what Kasia was saying. This understanding was furthered by the encounter with the New York family on vacation I described above.
So I let go.
I had a fantabulous (my 1st hour students agreed with me it should totally be a legit word) time with my family and stayed present. Taking my phone for a swim on day two only helped, as I was left phoneless for the rest of our stay.
And, it got me thinking…
“Can we have a free day?” asks random student in your class.
“Yes!” you reply.
“Duuude… This never works,” replies random student. “You’re my favorite teacher ever.”
But jokes aside… Life happens all the time and we miss the little things that make it special, because we focus on the next thing we have to do. We put pressure on ourselves. We stress. Students are the same way. So maybe, just maybe a few times each year, we just let go. Make a few days nonacademic.
Don’t just replay.
Reconnect. Reimagine. Reinvigorate.
Think about it. We program our students to become these workaholic robots, who upon completion of one task, mindlessly move on to the next thing on the list we, or they themselves create. Then they keep looking at their watch while having a conversation with someone or get impatient in traffic and roadrage their way through life. Not cool.
Do you ever notice how students speed from class to class with clenched teeth? Wouldn’t you have them relax and smile?
The free day does not have to be unproductive. What if you took a day every now and then to deepen the relationships with your students and build a tighter classroom community?
You can do it in many ways. Do an awesome classroom activity like this one:
Or have some fun with a random topic on Pechaflikr.
Or go big and get the whole school involved in something like the 21st Century Respect Event Jon Harper describes in his article More Than A Haircut.
Or go HUGE and get your school or district to celebrate Global School Play Day every year.
If only for a day at a time, teach your students to wake up and let go.
You have the power to change the world. Use it often.
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“Full disclosure: I have not received compensation of any kind for mentioning the products or services mentioned in this post. I was not solicited to write this post and I have no relationship with any of the companies mentioned.”