Yet, as my students were discussing and writing an email to their future selves, I began to think about what changes I wanted to make, personally and professionally. With the integration of digital tools into our every day lives, we have opportunities to connect and collaborate with people globally. I know I am a much better teacher, a much better person, because of these regular connections through social media. However, as a result, like many of my students and friends, I realize that we often disconnect with those around us in the three-dimensional world to catch up with those in our digital world. Have you ever looked around restaurants? It is very common to see a group of people (of all ages) dining together, but not conversing because they are each on devices. This happens in professional settings too.
As I reflected on this, a thought crystallized. We only have limited amounts of time with our students, with our family, with our friends. Once a moment is gone, it will never return. We need to clear time and mental space to truly be present in each of our moments with others.
For me, I realized that my mind was too cluttered to be able to enjoy moments giggling with my nieces or planning an amazing simulation for my students. I had to clear things off of my plate and out of my mind. That meant saying "no" to truly worthwhile opportunities. It meant removing devices from some of my activities. I have to have space to be creative and breathe so that I can be the best teacher for my students and the best version of me for my family and friends.
Teaching is not about content, it's about students. Life isn't about a checklist, it's about the people that we surround ourselves with and the choices we make. So whether we are conferring with a student on writing, facilitating an improv activity with our class, meeting with a parent to design a path to lead to a student's greatest success, hiking with friends, cooking dinner for loved ones, or binge watching TV in your PJs with your family, let's all strive to make moments. Be present...because that's the greatest gift we can give another person.