We all need rest stops occasionally. Breaks are more than a time to rest. They are also a time to learn.

I just sat down from a long day (make that a long month), and I am just flat out exhausted. Similar to other teachers, my foot was cemented to the gas pedal as I sped more than 80 mph through my to-do list driving over the bumps of the daily grind.

Halfway through the month, from the scope of my to-do list, I wasn’t sure I would make it. But I have made it. Now, I am forcing myself to make this last day of the month a Reflection Rest Stop.

Reflection Rest Stop: A place in your journey where you take time to think about where you have been, and what it means for where you are going.

I consider myself pretty decent at reflecting. Pretty decent being defined as: I will think about something immediately after it occurs if I remember and don’t have to rush immediately to the next thing. Obviously based on that definition, I have room for improvement. Lately, I am also making a big effort to walk my talk.

For example, as a classroom teacher, occasionally my less than stellar reflection habits would transfer onto my students. Often there was so much to do that I would leave reflection off the lesson plan–but I still expected my students to do it! (Yikes.) Over time, I have realized that reflection is a significant part of learning for teachers and students.

Bear with me, and learn with me, as I take a break at my Reflection Rest Stop. Recalling and reflecting on the conversations I have had this month whether it be in professional development sessions, on Twitter, with students, or on elevators, two major themes have emerged:

Passionate educators not only want to connect, they want to connect to collectively improve our practice.

Whether it is in person at a new teacher welcome reception, by participating in a CTQ #teachlearnlead webinar series, or by the electricity generated from any Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching (ECET2) Conference (search #ecet2), there are educators who feel empowered to influence educational policy and have a broader impact on their students and campuses.

Teachers and students both need to be inspired IN and BY our work.

You know what I find so beautiful in our profession? Hope. When teachers have hope, we can transfer that hope to our students. When students have hope, they can inspire us to do more. Find some hope, people, and hang on to it every day! Start here with a little Kid President.

Rest stops are designed to fill up your gas tank before moving forward on the journey; to fuel you for the rest of the trip. You have to use what you get from a rest stop to continue on the journey.

Here’s what I am taking from my Reflection Rest Stop:

  1. Seek out passionate educators, regardless of geographic location, and tackle big and small problems with them.
  2. Be deliberate about filling up my hope tank. Some can argue that this is the most tumultuous time in the history of education. If that is the case, I need to double up on my hope.
  3. Finally, I need to take more Reflection Rest Stops. Imagine how much I will continue to grow as a result.

If you want to take your own rest stops or help your students do so, here are a few reflection questions to get you started.

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