“Be OK with Different” has been my calming mantra for the past 5 years when, on the first day back to school in 2015, I promised myself it would be my last year in teaching. Now more than ever, being OK with different has kept me grounded while planning through adversity. While many of my colleagues have been forced to suddenly adapt, I have gotten quite used to embracing differences that come with change and creating multiple, not-always-successful, plans to thrive in new realities.
I didn’t end up leaving teaching in 2015. Needing a change, I moved from the high school to middle school, swapped 100 students for 400, and went from teaching one grade level to four. Every day was a challenge and I told myself, “be OK with different”. Like many teachers, I like control and setting sometimes impossible expectations for myself. As challenging as my new teaching assignment was, being OK with different really began to shape my days when I decided to quit CrossFit.
I would go to my gym every morning at 5:00am. On the weekends I swam or took classes at the YMCA. I love working hard but I hate exercise so having a coach and teammates push me was what I needed. It was perfect. Until it wasn’t. After 6 years of this routine, I was only getting 4-6 hours of sleep. My sports injuries were limiting me. The anxiety of going to the gym every morning was overwhelming, especially when I checked my bank account. My family needed me more than ever but I was too exhausted to be present. So I quit. I had to “be OK with different”. I struggled. I felt that I would never be in the shape I was before. I had to find ways to be active that were new but fit into my schedule, which was very limiting. I rage walked during sports practices and games. I practiced aggressive landscaping. Whatever I did, I tried to do it intensely.
Rage Walking: Walk like you are angry. Swear if necessary. Listen to political podcasts. Process emotions with a vent buddy.
When my school closed on Friday March 13, I embraced it. I loved the new challenge of teaching online while maintaining my curriculum. I buried myself in resources from my PLN. I learned how to use my LMS. I kept my need for perfection and highly self-critical expectations at bay with my calming mantra, “Be OK with Different”.
I also need to “be OK with different” for my students. Just like I changed my exercise to actual functional fitness, my students may have different activities that keep them active. One of my students lives on a farm run by their family. They provide milk, eggs, and meat to the local community. Farms don’t stop in a shut down so my student is helping. Their exercise is going to look a lot different then a push up challenge, at-home workouts, or family yoga. When the mom reached out to me, stressed that her kids weren’t completing the recommended learning activities, I told her to, “be OK with different”.
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