Every Sunday night, my high school principal sends a beautifully crafted email of encouragement and wisdom to the faculty. Of course there’s pertinent information as well, mostly updates and important dates to remember, but at the heart of her messages are words of inspiration—and this week’s was no different. Just three days ago, I received an email that reminded my colleagues and me of the importance of self-care. We’re one week shy of midterms (insane!!!), and finally halfway through the longest term of the school year. Faculty members have been trucking away like trains on a track, turning our wheels faster and faster, not breaking, not stopping, and not resting since we started orientation and planning week in August. We’re exhausted, sleep-deprived, dehydrated, famished, and probably a hop, skip, and a jump away from falling ill or quitting (whichever comes first, right?). We’re turning into zombies and pod-people—tiny shells of our previous existence. Okay, okay…maybe I’m being a bit dramatic here, but when we stop and take a moment to breathe and reflect deeply, we can start to see and feel what we’ve often been ignoring. And as I sit and consider my own thoughts and feelings, I can’t help but think about yours: how do the students feel?
Between runny noses, puffy eyes, and itchy throats, I am two sneezes away from locking myself in a giant hazmat suit. Just call me “bubble girl” because I need a protective shield to prevent those pesky germs from seeping into my pores. Alright, alright, I know I’m being dramatic, but when half of your students are suffering from the flu and the other half are battling a stomach bug, it’s okay to be on edge. Agreed? Just last week I had a student who was, quite honestly, close to coughing up a lung. When I encouraged him to return to his room to rest and recoup, he decided against it and (painfully) forged ahead. So, what is it about this time of year when everyone gets sick at once and no one wants to stay in the health center and miss class? When did getting good grades outweigh getting healthy? When did taking care of yourself become a sign of weakness?