The Seasons of Parenting, Teaching, and Leading

“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.

Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.

Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.

Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”

  • Yoko Ono

I recently listed to a podcast [1]about the personalities of summer, fall, winter, and spring and how these physical, global seasons influence, guide, and shape our internal moods, motivation, and productivity. As I was running through the trails of Central Texas, listening to the content of the podcast, I became inspired to write about this as it relates to our work as parents, teachers, and leaders.  

Let us Play…. It Is Summer!

Teachers:

Summer is often associated with fun and play.  A time of running, exploring, and HAVING FUN.  That is certainly true for many teachers who are taking time off from their routines and busy schedules of lesson planning and the other multi-tasking roles that keep us “on” and focused during the school year.  It is also a time when we can revisit activities that restore and rejuvenate us.  We may spend more time playing the guitar, kayaking, writing, reading, or engaging in a hobby or sport of choice.  “Flow”[2] is probably more prominent in our lives during summer as we have more time to be with that which we love.  Days are also longer, warmer, and the energy of others around us motivates us to go, go, go.   It is so important to invest in ourselves and our rejuvenation during these times as flow begets flow.  Yes, when we disengage from our work routine, to be with ourselves and that which we love, we become more productive when our routines resume.  Soak it up educators!

Parents:

We do the same during summer, yet often in different ways.  This is a time to shorten your work week, spend more time outdoors, and spend more time playing with your children.  Enjoy the long days and the boundless activities that are available to you and your families while maintaining consistency and routine as much as possible for your younger ones who will seek the safety and assurance of predictability.  Also, build in time for you during these months and make time to engage in activities that you love that are just for you!  Use that time to be in flow, and to let those synapses in your brain sparkle and connect so that when you are with your family, you are re-energized and ready to joyfully engage. And by doing so, you are modeling for your children that the world is a joyful and safe place to explore and grow. Do not overschedule your family for fear of facing chaos and losing control.  Allow your children to be “bored” and find something to do occasionally – it forces them to be in silence, with themselves, where reflection and creativity can and will emerge. 

Leaders:

For leaders who are educators, this is the time for summer camp in schools, lighter schedules, and more physical activity inside and outside of schools.  This is when we play.  Play with students, play with staff, and infuse play and recreational activity into your worlds.    Dr.’s Bob and Judith Wright, who led the Wright Graduate University for the Realization of the Human Potential speak of play as an important component in our conscious development. The principle of play is especially important; it is the interaction that allows basic hunger needs (belonging and significance) to be affirmed. [3]  Your play, as a leader, is about engagement, and capitalizing on the risks of speaking your truth and being vulnerable, open, and PRESENT with those whom you lead.  Play is not always fun – it can be confronting and even combative at times, but the shake up is followed by rebirth and growth so…do it! 

Letting the Leaves Fall…Autumn!

Fall is a time to reflect on what you want to let go of and what you want to hold onto in your lives.  Trees, during the fall season, are letting go of their leaves in preparation for new growth that will emerge in the spring.  They do not try to hold onto those leaves.  Sometimes, however, we as humans do try to hold onto things that the universe is begging for us to let go of.  

Teachers:

  • A perception of a student that is holding the student back and negatively impacting your relationship.
  • Classroom systems and routines that are no longer serving the students or you (remember that you are part of the environment too).
  • Power struggles
  • Tension with colleagues, assistant teachers, etc. 

Parents:

  • Schedules that are impeding joy, creativity, and time for reflection, etc. in your life and the life of your family. 
  • A limiting belief
  • Unhealthy habits
  • Patterns that are not serving our children:  rescuing, persecuting, shaming, punishing, avoiding, overprotecting

Leaders:

  • What can you release or shift so you and your team are in sync?  
    • An annual calendar event that has gone stale.
    • Mandates and expectations that enable and discourage rather than enable and empower.
    • The need to be connected to an outcome.
    • The need to be right or to control.
    • Shifts in time management, etc. 
    • Toxic employees

Who, What and Where…It is Winter!

After shedding in the fall, winter comes so we can heal and reflect.  Do not avoid the coldness and harshness of winter; instead, lean into it.  Be with yourself and activate or build on that internal locus of control.  Where are you in your life and your work and what do you want? It is O.K. for this to be a time of recovery and planning rather than producing.  Recovery is as important as progress because this is what feeds and allows for the progress.  This is the time for annual intention wheel development where quarterly and annual goals are created around the major life themes:  relationships, family, career, social life, and finances. 

Teachers:

  • Self-care and time for quiet reflection and/or journaling
  • Classroom observations (the observations tell you want the children need)
  • Assessments (where are they and where do they need support?)
  • Integrated projects that highlight learnings in the fall semester.
  • Building on skills

Parents:

  • Self-care and time for quiet reflection and/or journaling
  • Planning for spring and summer 
  • Holding family gatherings and meetings and deepening intimacy
  • Organizing your home for better functionality and purposeful activity and movement

Leaders:

  • Self-care and time for quiet reflection and/or journaling
  • Classroom observations 
  • Student assessments
  • Planning for staff assessments and spring activities
  • Parent and staff gatherings and deepening content and strengthening relationships.

Now We Grow – Spring!

After shedding, recovering, and contemplative planning, it is time for rejuvenation and rebirth! You have let go, dove deep into the where and what of what you want for yourself, your work and for those it impacts, so begin to build the new and the different.  Just as the physical world 

is bolstering new life all around you, you build your intentions and the teams that will bring those intention to fruition.

Teachers:

  • Cumulative learning projects
  • Presentations
  • Celebrations 
  • Visioning 
  • Putting plans into action 

Parents:

  • Winter planning turns into intentional action.
  • Systems and routines are improved and reinstated.
  • Communication is encouraging, loving, and empowering.
  • Your home allows all to function with a sense of capability, safety, trust, and success.
  • Personal goals are put into action and becoming more internalized as parts of who you are. 

Leaders:

  • Calendars are created and distributed with the traditional and the new that you have visioned.
  • Staff evaluations and self-evaluations are in process.
  • Visions and intentions for fall are discussed and put into action.
  • Celebrations and acknowledgements are abundant.

Even if your internal seasons are out of sync with mother earth’s seasons, make sure you play hard for three months, let go and shed for three months, contemplate, and look within for three months and put rejuvenation and rebirth into action for three months.  Parents, teachers, and leaders, we are all in this together.  Let us support one another and continue to grow and strive to reach our full potentials until we are no longer here to do so!


[1] Shetty, Jay.  On Purpose Podcast; February 5, 2021. 

[2] Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly; Flow:  The Psychology of Optimal Experience, 1990. 

[3] Wright, Dr. Judith, and Bob.  Foundations of Lifelong Learning and Personal Transformation, 2012; pg. 62.   

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