Through the Eyes of an Educator: New Year–New Mindset

by Stacey Ebert / Jan 06, 2020 /
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What are your first thoughts upon opening your eyes on January 1st? Are you ready to jump in with both feet, are you thinking the same things you did 24 hours ago, or are you nervous, yet excited to see what’s to come? Somewhere in there is a little bit of each of us. That first whiff of a new year is something special. Roll all of your favorite smells into one and you’ve got that first breath of air on the 1st of January.

There’s power in that breath, glistening opportunities, goals seeking to be attained, and a clean slate on which to write–what will you do with your first days of 2020?

Through the Eyes of an Educator: New Year–New Mindset

Are you already setting big plans in motion? Did you book those travel deals a few months ago and have those upcoming adventures already penciled in on the calendar? Are you a holiday fan and already know at whose house you’re planning to spend each and every one next year? Have you sorted out that meditation retreat and are looking forward to enhancing your ability to pause, slow down, and take notice of life more as the observer? Or are you seemingly flabbergasted that January has come back around and you’re still feeling as stuck, stressed, and as behind the eight ball as you did a month ago? This holiday season is a lot to handle, and when it finally slows and the chaos fades, often it feels like there’s heaps of pressure for that New Year–how do you approach it all?

Whether the steam is coming out of your ears or you’ve just left your reiki session and are feeling lighter than a feather, the New Year is upon us all. Whether we’ve quite literally tried to fill it with plans or have covered our journals with those manifesting dreams, we’ve turned the calendar page and that first hint of January has arrived. 

How do we teach our next generation to see that fresh start and know that it’s theirs for the taking? 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: New Year–New Mindset

Whether we’re the only ones responsible for our children’s education or are a player on a much larger team of coaches and mentors - it’s our responsibility to be sure that all learners have the opportunity to view that clean slate, acknowledge that blank calendar and know that the choice to fill or not fill it is up to them. How do we encourage those pauses, that thought, that process of not knowing everything is all right and that there’s no one right way to address the upcoming 365 days (or anything, for that matter)?

Travel helps. 

Travel is daunting, messy, exhilarating, stressful, healing, thought-provoking, engaging, educational, and perspective shifting. Once that thought of a new adventure pops in, it’s difficult to disengage it from our brains. It sits, festers, builds, changes, and at some point forces us to either acknowledge it and get that planning underway or ditch it (for the time being). Next come the logistics, pricing, saving, questioning, researching, the anxiety, the unknown, the messy, the concern, the excitement, the learning, the doing, and the joy. One trip can be a full on loop-de-loop roller coaster before we even set foot on the first mode of transport designed to get us there–and then there’s the rest of the journey. Turning the new page from December to January is exactly like that: it’s everything and nothing all rolled into one–and for the most part, the only parts that we have even a fair possibility of control over is our response, our acceptance, and our attitude. 

As educators, it’s our job to harness that thirst for adventure, embrace the anxiety that intermingles with the curiosity, harvest that desire for something greater than oneself, challenge students to learn to let go a bit more, and mix it with a hint of the travel spirit to enhance the learner’s ability to see clearly through the fog. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: New Year–New Mindset

We are the facilitators, the guides to the trip. 

We are the ones in the background providing a potential framework while allowing those learners to steer their own course. No micromanaging, no overscheduling, no ‘this way or the highway’ statements, guidance and support along our learner’s educational journey. Travel can help drive the direction for so many wanderers along the way–yet, for each of us the journey is ours to take. 

Using that magic and messiness of travel, we can help learners unravel their own story and find their own path. Taking hold of that peaked curiosity and craving the unknown helps to liven lessons and add engagement to education. While in each 24-hour period there’s a chance for learning, there’s a heightened feeling to that 24-hour period between the 31st of December and the 1st of January. If we, as educators, could somehow capture that magic and immerse our lessons in it throughout the year, that intensity of reflection and wonder could last all year. If we can create lessons that consistently merge the zealousness of that resolution spirit, our students might continue to set new goals, believe more in the power of self, and keep looking towards that ‘what’s next’ future.

We all get stuck in the repetition of the everyday. Often the new turns to rote, the excitement of a first turns to boredom of echo, and that raw zest to do something that might frighten you shrivels and is shut in a fear-filled compartment. It’s that new, excitement, and raw zest that we need to cultivate the entire year, the entire educational experience...and it’s what we hope our students will take with them as life-long learners. The ‘step up to the challenge even if it’s hard’ attitude, set out that new goal even if it today seems unattainable mindset, set those dreams afloat in world, and be proud of whatever steps are taken in the direction of reaching that dream desire–these are the attitudes, the ethics, and the mantras we need to impart to our students. That resolution mindset works for all 12 months of the year. 

It’s up to us to embrace it and share it with that next generation of learners.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: New Year–New Mindset

Muscles take time to develop, expert level skills aren’t built in a day, researchers take years to find successful cures, gold medal winners have fallen mid-race, and Tony-winning Broadway actors each had a first day experience. That reflection is necessary, and travel helps. The adventure you’re on wasn’t planned five minutes ago, the plane ticket to bring you to your destination was purchased months ago, and the idea for this life-changing journey was possibly hatched years ago. These are the lessons that are necessary, life-affirming, and stand the test of time. 

It’s important to reflect on where we’ve been, and imperative to look ahead to the future. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: New Year–New Mindset

Educators teach far more than reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic. Far beyond the borders of culinary skills and science, physical education and critical thinking, business skills and musical aptitude, there’s so much more of the unseen. There’s character and kindness, empathy and ethics, tolerance and techniques, courage and curiosity, creativity and cultivating dreams. The list goes on and on. That resolution mindset is in the unseen, the untestable, and the part of education that can’t be graded on a rubric or bubbled in on a multi-purpose answer sheet. That encouragement of your dreams matter, that guidance is imperative, and that support–priceless! 

When we urge our students to choose new each day, to set goals, strive towards them, and to reimagine them along the way, to aim higher than they ever before thought possible, this is how we take hold of that new year with both hands and help our students to do the same. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: New Year–New Mindset

Happy New Year to you and yours. Enjoy the journey.

 

 

Stacey Ebert, our Educational Travels Editor, is a traveler at heart who met her Australian-born husband while on a trip in New Zealand. Stacey was an extracurricular advisor and taught history in a Long Island public high school for over fifteen years, enjoying both the formal and informal educational practices. After a one year 'round the world honeymoon, travel and its many gifts changed her perspective. She has since left the educational world to focus on writing and travel. She is energetic and enthusiastic about long term travel, finding what makes you happy and making the leap. In her spare time she is an event planner, yogi, dark chocolate lover, and spends as much time as possible with her toes in the sand.

Check out her website at thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com for more of her travel musings.