My five-year old is obsessed with slime. Truth be told, he’s obsessed with anything goopy, sloppy, messy, or mushy, but the advent of slime being sold as a “toy” has totally changed his worldview. Couple that with the fact that he can now make his own slime, and you can imagine what my house looks like on most days.
The thing about slime is once it’s been created, once it’s been played with, there’s really nothing parents can do with it. It’s not like there’s a specific container made for slime, and its malleability, while fun for kids, doesn’t lend itself to easy storage. Ultimately, parents are left trying to squish slime into something until it squishes itself out. What doesn’t make it in a container ends up in the trash or down the garbage disposal, never to be heard from again.
So much of teaching and leadership is, well, slimy. Teachers are asked to squish in as much content, assessment, social-emotional learning, professional development, activities, chaperoning, SGOs, and happy hours as they possibly can. Leaders are asked to squish in as many classroom visits, observations, professional development, meetings, parent refereeing, strategic planning, QSAC reviews, and emotional support as they can.
Eventually, something is going to squish out.
The trick, then, is to figure out, well in advance, what you’re willing to squish in and what you’re comfortable allowing to squish out. Determine how messy is too messy, when enough is enough, and when it’s time to put the slime down and slowly back away.
There may be no more amorphous a profession than education. Despite misguided narratives from on high and uninformed references to “summers off,” a life in public education is a life of, well, slime. Educators contort, flatten, absorb, repel, sparkle, maintain, camouflage, and adhere. Every. Single. Day.
As you recharge and restore this summer, invite yourself to squish in as much as you want, and accept the reality that things will squish out.
There’s a brand new container of slime waiting for you in September.