“When your output exceeds your input, then your upkeep will be your downfall”. These are wise words that I heard many times early on in my career from a wise mentor that genuinely cared about my long-term success. The point is that we must have a way of refueling ourselves so that we are able to continue the journey of pouring into others. I have found that we educators, therapists, clinicians, and consultants are the worst at adhering to this principle. The enormity of our work, the long task lists, meetings upon meetings, and preparation for tomorrow, next week, and next year can cause you to be so busy that you have to be reminded to stop and smell the roses. So here’s your reminder!
Jason C. and I had the incredible opportunity to speak at the Inclusive Learning Technologies Conference on the Gold Coast in Australia. I have never been to an event that was so well organized with every detail thought through and delivered with excellence. It was during this time away from the distractions of the typical day to day that I was able to do 3 things that I would like you to consider doing yourself.
Engage with challenging experts. At ILT2014, I was surrounded by incredible innovators in the fields of AT, AAC, learning strategies, research to practice, and motivation. Session after session was full of must have strategies and there was not enough time to get to everything. It is through attending events like this that you get access to emerging ideas and strategies from leaders in the field. This combination of information and inspiration gives you the energy to walk away ready to improve your practice no matter where you are. Carol Zangari has done an incredible job summarizing those thought leaders in a blog post here. If you are interested in accessing the sessions, the Spectronics team is making many of the sessions available online (click here to find out how to register).
Surround yourself with like minded colleagues. Hopefully you work in a team oriented environment. The unfortunate reality is that you may not have advocates surrounding you with encouragement and new ideas. Though they may not be across the hall or the office next door, you can leverage technology to make this connection. In such a collaborative community, there are always others who are willing to help. Here are a few (there are many more) people active on social media who are in the trenches, incredible encouragers, and innovators in their work from around the globe. I recommend giving each of them a follow on twitter (@chacullen, @amandahartmann8, @anitaraftery, @martinmckay, @attipscast, @possbeth, @SP_Harmony, @ibuddha, @aaronoverington, @lindafoskey, @gailbennell, @trinaOT, @wrenasmir).
Change your location. I know in times of tight budgets, a trip to Australia is probably not going to happen (or to the US for my aussie/kiwi colleagues), but a change of location doesn’t require a plane ticket. Instead of prepping at your desk or even in your office, pick somewhere different. Go outside or change rooms. Something that is outside the norm. This might just break the monotony of the day to day and allow you to see a new solution to a familiar problem.
When the day to day of your work gets the best of you, take the steps to take care of yourself and the results will follow. If you have other ideas that work for you, post below!