Begin Again

Begin Again

These are the show notes for my latest episode of The #PhysEd Show Podcast. Take a listen to the episode by using the player below or subscribe to the show in your favourite podcast app!

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Transcript

I’m sharing something with you today that is incredibly personal and that I’ve been hesitating – I’m not sure hesitating it the right word, more like I’ve been terrified – to talk about for the past two months. Before we get into it, I just want to be super clear as to why I’m doing this now, because I’m not looking for sympathy or pity or anything like that. I’m sharing because one of the things I have learned through this whole process is that I was much less alone than I thought I was in this and sometimes people just need to hear that someone else is going through the same things they are. 

Let’s start at the start. I’ve talked about my morning routine before: I get up early, make a coffee, and start writing. Every morning, the first thing I write down are my three values:

  1. Family.
  2. Health.
  3. Education.

I write those down so that they are front-in-mind and can help guide me through the day that is to come. I was raised to believe that your values shape your character, and that character is what comes out when things get tough. It’s the default settings that you forge over a lifetime of living, failing, learning, and growing.

Part of the reason I started this practice was because of the fact that I live my life with a soul-crushing amount of anxiety and depression. I’ve been an anxious person my whole life and first noticed the role that depression plays in my wellbeing back in my early-to-mid 20s (I’m 35 now). For a long time, I thought I could take advantage of the roller-coaster that my mind would put me through: I could suffer through the lows – just riding them out for as long as they took – and get the most out of these crazy highs I would experience. If you’ve been following my work for years, you’ve probably already noticed the pattern: periods where you don’t hear from me for a long time followed by periods where I’m sharing an insane amount of content and ideas. It worked for me. 

Then I got married and became a dad and realized that I could no longer go to those dark places of my lows on my own anymore: any time spent there meant that my wife and son got dragged into it – to a degree – alongside with me. I couldn’t afford to do that, so I started to take steps to try and balance myself out more.

If you’ve never felt the weight of depression before, it almost feels like you’re deep under water: you don’t hear things clearly, you can’t see too far ahead, and it feels like your life force is slowly slipping away. You’re not yourself. Your mind is off its rails: your thinking patterns are different and everything feels like you’re just crashing into it. 

As I grew older, I came to better recognize that state and stopped trying to flee from it as I did in my 20s (when I normally “managed” it – big air quotes around the word managed there – with alcohol). Once I had a better picture of what my depressive state was like, I started coming up with tools to help pull me out of it as quickly as I could. Writing down my values every morning was like turning the lighthouse light on: when I found myself under dark, cold water I could see the light above the surface and start swimming in that direction.

For the most part, it worked. When I started to feel unwell, I’d invest time into my family. When I noticed that I was getting stuck in a depressive pattern, I’d ramp up my healthy habits. When I started to lose my purpose, I’d dive deeper into my teaching, my students, and the work I do on the website to help other teachers.

Family, health, education. My values – in that order – were there to help me through it all. Until I realized that I was lying to myself about them. Not that I didn’t maintain those three values in my heart, but that I was willing to switch the order up to focus on one while ignoring the others. 

For the longest time, I would put my teaching ahead of everything else. Family is rooted too deeply in me for me to ignore it completely, but health… I was willing to sacrifice that in order to spend more hours on lessons, units, projects, and content. It was a slow grind over years and years that was taking a toll I didn’t fully understand. When my son was born, suddenly a whole new chapter of my life began. My desire to be a family man grew even stronger, but I wasn’t willing to pump the breaks on how I identified as an educator. This meant that health got tossed even further out the window. 

I can’t say that I didn’t know it was happening: the signs were all there. I have stress-induced eczema, which is patches of dry, itchy skin that pop up all over my body. It gets bad/noticeable enough that I would joke with my students that I had zombie fingers when they saw the cracked, bleeding skin on my hands. My digestion issues were the worst. It would get to the point that I would avoid eating breakfast or meals at school to avoid getting sick at work. I’m a tall, slender guy: 6’2” and 180 when healthy. It’s not uncommon for my weight to drop below 170 during a prolonged period of anxiety or depression. Last year, the anxiety started to attack my muscles: I had such bad tension in my traps and neck that no osteopath, chiropractor, or acupuncture seemed to be able to relieve me of. I could feel it: my brother has a husky whose fur on her shoulders raises up when she sees another dog and that’s how my upper back felt. It tensed up instantly when I was under stress. The headaches and migraines that came with it all often meant that I would have to go to bed as soon as I got home from work to try and sleep them off because they would get so bad that just keeping my eyes open was painful. 

And then came my heart. I don’t know what’s up with my heart. As I write this, I’m wearing a Holter device which is a tool that monitors your heart for 24 hours so that doctors can try to find out what’s going on. I’m not unfamiliar with panic attacks: as someone who has lived with anxiety for most of his life, I’ve had a couple. It feels like you’re dying: it starts with pain in your chest, followed by sweaty hands and feet. You can start to feel your heart beating faster – abnormally fast – and then you get dizzy. Your legs start to shake and tunnel vision sets in. It feels like your outside your body, but experiencing every sensation in it all at the same time.

I had a really bad one in the spring. My wife and I were watching a movie – The Gentlemen – and there was a car crash scene. My heart felt like it pumped sludge for a beat: just a really slow, strong beat. Then all of the other symptoms started to hit me but stronger than I had ever felt before. I didn’t want to go to the hospital even though I was freaking out: the pandemic was in full rage mode, my son was sleeping in his crib, and I couldn’t think through the logistics of it all. I went for a walk to see if I could shake it, which did seem to work. It took me three days to fully recover from it. I’ve been having heart palpitations ever since: either a flutter in my heart or a mild sludge pump. Just before Christmas, I was sitting down with my family in the morning. I knew my heart rate had been at 50 because I had just checked it on my Apple Watch. I started to feel my mood change – I was feeling angry for no reason – and next thing I knew my heart rate was at 148 and all of the other symptoms that I had felt in the spring appeared. This time, I did go to the hospital and I’m now being followed by a doctor to try and figure this all out. I’m not going to lie: it’s terrifying. That said, I’m hoping that it all just turns out to be anxiety related.

Character is what comes out when things get tough. This whole fucking pandemic has taken its toll on me. In the spring, when the lockdown started and we switched to distance learning, I was a mess. I felt as though a key component of my identity – identifying as a great teacher – had been robbed from me. I felt very out of control and felt myself slipping back under the water. In an effort to regain some sense of control, I started doubling down on teaching. Not health, not family, but teaching. I started going to bed at 12:00-1:00AM every night and then waking up a 4:00AM with my mind absolutely racing and knowing that I wouldn’t be able to fall back asleep. Might as well get up and get to work, right! I’d start my day answering emails from teachers who – in their own fear – chose to unleash some anger in their messages. Angry about not receiving their download, angry about me not sharing my templates, angry about me not getting back soon enough. I thought I was helping out by starting my day off like that every morning, but my cup was drained and I didn’t know where to pour from. I’d then get into making content for my teaching, obsessing over every detail of how things looked/worked. 

At school, I couldn’t afford to be such a perfectionist because each lesson provided me with a hard deadline. In an asynchronous teaching reality, with what felt like unlimited time and unlimited resources to invest in every new project, I could afford to try and be perfect. 

Here’s the thing about being a perfectionist: it’s not as much about producing great work as it is about convincing yourself that you’re good enough.

By the end of the school year, I felt like a shell of who I was previously. In depression, you learn how to fake a lot: you put on a show and surprise everyone with some flash and bang so that no one sees what’s really happening. May/June involved a lot of flash and bang. 

By July, my family and I were in Nova Scotia and I decided I had to recharge. With teaching out of the way and no public speaking events scheduled for the summer (everything was pretty much cancelled), I got to focus on family and health. Taking my son to the beach every day, cooking dinners with my wife, going for runs, paddle boarding… anything and everything I could do to regain some sense of self again. I completed Sam Harris’ “Waking Up” introductory meditation course. I love how, in the final minute of so many of his sessions, he invites participants to “simply, begin again”. Allowing myself the grace to start over is not something that I’ve ever been very good at in my life, so those words stuck with me.

We also found out that Jess was pregnant which meant we’d have another baby on the way in March! Our family was going to get bigger, our son would have a sibling, and our home would soon be filled with that much more love (and madness – let’s be real).

Do you see my pattern? A deep dark valley followed by a nice high hill.

By August, I decided it was time to get back into teacher mode. I started researching pandemic back-to-school guidelines, I came up with the plan to make recess work in a global pandemic, I started drafting ideas on how to boost school connectedness for faculty, on-campus students, and at-home learners.

We made our way back to Montreal and I was feeling good about the school year. My mission was to – just like my favourite Sean Paul song – be like glue: to bind people together and be a positive force at school. 

Just like my wife, my sister-in-law/teaching partner extraordinaire would also be on preventative/maternity leave for the year which meant that I had a new teaching partner. 

“Ok, I can roll with this.” 

When we got back to school, we found out that we would be using a “concurrent classroom” model which meant that we would be teaching both on-campus students and at-home learners at the same time. 

“Alright, let’s have some fun with this!” 

Not all families wanted their kids to sit in live PE lessons from home, so they asked that we also provide asynchronous work that they could complete on their own time. 

“Cool! New types of content to make!”

I would find colleagues crying in their classrooms or workstations between lessons. Totally depleted after just a few weeks of teaching.

“Hey, I’m here for you. Let me know how I can help. If you want a bagel, I bought some fresh ones this morning! They’re in the staff room!”

I found out that – due to new government guidelines – the new schedule meant that my contact time with younger students would get cut in half. Also, I didn’t have a teaching space for my grade six lessons on Friday. Also also, during that period I would have to teach both bubbles at the same time but make sure that they didn’t come into contact with each other.

“Ok. Another puzzle. I like puzzles.”

Before too long, my anxiety started waking me up at 3:00-4:00AM again. My skin started to break down, keeping me up at night. I lost my appetite and saw the weight I had worked hard to regain over the summer slowly start melting away. I would come home, go to the bedroom away from my wife and son, and cry. When/if I came out again, I’d be angry. As a toddler right smack in the “Terrible Twos”, my son would throw tantrums that were only rivalled by the ones I was throwing myself. I felt outside of my body.

At work, my heart palpitations started to show up in the middle of my lessons. I’d finish my instructions, get the kids going, and then take a knee and focus on my breathing until it passed. I felt myself getting angry at both the work I was doing and the place where I worked. A colleague of mine had a very justified outburst at an out-of-touch request that the school had made of the faculty. No one was really at fault: when everyone becomes so entrenched in doing what they can do to keep a school running, it’s easy to become out of touch with each other’s realities and states of wellbeing. I found myself feeling triggered by the school’s response to what had happened and I decided that I wanted to speak my mind during a check in meeting I was scheduled to have my my heads of school.

We often fantasize about those moments: when push comes to shove and how we’ll put our foot down. I went into that meeting feeling ready to let go of all of this anger that had been boiling up inside of me. When I went to unleash it, what came out wasn’t anger: it was just a lot of hurt and pain. I couldn’t bring myself to bash of my heads of school, people who – deep down – I knew were also hurting and just trying their best. That said, I also couldn’t keep going on like this. I was empty: utterly drained, scared for my health, worried about my family, unable to see things with clear eyes, and completely unsure how I was going to get through the next couple of days let alone the next couple of months.

With my best interest at heart, my heads of school suggested that I take a couple of days to try and recharge and regain some balance. I did so and did my best to try not to think about school while I wasn’t there. I failed miserably at that: instead I tried to use the time off to catch up on assessment and asynchronous lessons that needed to be prepared. 

Early one morning, I got up to make my coffee and was getting ready to start updating my Seesaw entries. As the kettle was boiling, I randomly hopped on Facebook (which I rarely do anymore). The top post in my feed was from an educational consultant who I had done some work with in the past and have a tremendous amount of respect for. In her post, she shared the following quote by author Oliver Burkeman:

When stumped by a life choice, choose “enlargement” over happiness. I’m indebted to the Jungian therapist James Hollis for the insight that major personal decisions should be made not by asking, “Will this make me happy?”, but “Will this choice enlarge me or diminish me?” We’re terrible at predicting what will make us happy: the question swiftly gets bogged down in our narrow preferences for security and control. But the enlargement question elicits a deeper, intuitive response. You tend to just know whether, say, leaving or remaining in a relationship or a job, though it might bring short-term comfort, would mean cheating yourself of growth. (Relatedly, don’t worry about burning bridges: irreversible decisions tend to be more satisfying, because now there’s only one direction to travel – forward into whatever choice you made.)

I sat in my kitchen that morning and thought about that quote. I know that – when I’m well – teaching makes me happy. I find purpose in it and feel most connected to who I am. But my relationship with teaching is also an unhealthy one, one that I struggle set boundaries to, one that can leave me feeling diminished.

I got to work on those Seesaw entries. Uploading videos of students performing their running that I carefully filmed in 1080p at 60fps while running alongside them using my handheld gimbal to ensure the best possible shot. I created a custom graphic that would sit in the upper right corner of each video that showcased the five critical elements of running, which I had re-written in student-friendly language. With the graphic added to the video, I used Seesaw’s built-in annotation tools to add a star emoji to the critical element that was most easily observable and then used the highlighter function to mark the critical element that I wanted the student to focus on next. Next, I wrote out some additional feedback as a caption to the post and wrapped this whole process up by tagging the post with the skills (a.k.a the SHAPE America grade-level outcomes that this assessment piece was based on) that I had previously uploaded to Seesaw. I did this for each kid in the bubble group and then moved onto the next group and repeated it all over again.

When I was done, I sat back and thought “why the hell am I doing this?” I mean, I know why: being a good, innovative, effective teacher makes me happy. Helping kids learn and believe in themselves makes me happy. But the reality was that I was sitting at home, at 5:30 in the morning, on a day where I was supposed to be resting to avoid burning out any further, and I just couldn’t help but to jump into my work. By doing so, I was robbing myself – once again – of any ability to put family and health in their rightful place at the top of my priorities and values.

I had an honest and very real conversation with my wife later that day. We talked about our growing family, our dream of moving out of the city, my long-term professional goals and the state of my health. We talked about the fact that neither of us were sure how I was going to be able to handle all of these upcoming changes if I stayed in this state. We also talked about my dream of launching the next chapter of my career and starting out as a physical education instructional coach. As I’ve built ThePhysicalEducator.com over the past ten years and witnessed how I can be helping other teachers through it, that had became my long-term goal. However, I always felt like I still had something to prove in my teaching: that I still hadn’t reached the standard I had set for myself. The reality is that I was also terrified: to give up the safety and security of being a teacher in order to chase something else not only felt scary, it felt irresponsible towards my family. As Jess and I talked though, I came to realize that sacrificing my health, robbing my family of who I really am, stealing away moments as I try to balance teaching full-time and still keeping the site going… that was the real irresponsible thing that was happening. Allowing fear to deny myself the opportunity to be well, to be the husband and father I want to be, to chase a dream, and to finally step outside of my comfort zone and experience growth and enlargement THAT was what was irresponsible.

So I quit. I wrote up my letter of resignation and handed it in my two week’s notice. I finally decided to put my family and my health first. The school did their very best to find a way to keep me there, but I knew that I could not move forward with my health unless I started by reclaiming all of the headspace I had allowed teaching to occupy for so long.

The week that followed was a hard one. The school wasn’t ready to announce my leaving just yet and I asked that we not tell the students until my final week (which they respected). My head still wasn’t right and I spent the whole week feeling sick about what I had done. It all felt like a test of my will, and – I’ll be honest – it felt like I was failing. By Friday afternoon, I didn’t know how I was going to get myself through my last final week.

On the Saturday morning, my family and I went for a hike. We were walking through the woods, chasing our son between the trees, and watching for birds. At some point, I realized that I was fully present in that moment. When I talk to my wife about how my head feels most of the time, a common thing I say is that it feels as if my mind has been ripped apart. I have a hard time being present – even during family outings – because part of my head is back in that tiny blue gym at my school thinking about what is to happen next in my teaching. But on that morning, all of those pieces of my mind were together and focused on the only thing that matters: my family. 

By Monday morning, the faculty had been notified of my decision and I started to receive thoughtful messages from the amazing people who I had the privilege to work with for all those years. I remember reading “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and being challenged by the author to think about what people would be saying at my funeral. My leaving the school isn’t exactly the same as me dying, but it did let me hear what people really thought of me as a colleague. The words they used to describe me were never ones I would use to describe myself. Traits like “generosity”, “integrity”, “kindness” were all ones that I strived to build into my character, but also ones that I felt I had missed the mark on too many times to feel deserving of. 

As I started to pack up my things, I was able to take stock of all of the work I had accomplished over the past seven years at St. George’s. When you’re in it, it can be really easy to get so focused on thoughts such as “how could I make this better now”, “what comes next” and “I wish I hadn’t cut that corner!” By getting caught up in that thinking, you lose your ability to make an inventory of what you’ve achieved and the impact you have had. With clearer eyes and a closing chapter, I was able to see that I had done good work at the school. I’m not trying to be boastful or anything like that, I’m just saying that – in your quest to better yourself as an educator – it can be easy to forget that the teacher you are today is pretty darn good. Wanting to better shouldn’t rob you of your ability to feel proud of who you are. You can be both hungry and happy at the same time.

The next thing I had to do was say goodbye to my students. These kids that put their faith in me, ran with my crazy ideas, and made me feel loved each and every day. These kids I watched grow up and whose parents let me into their family’s village. People who don’t work with kids will never understand just how strong they are. They’ll never see the magic of a young person’s ability to cut through everything and connect straight to your heart, giving you the courage you need to just be yourself. The kids were sad but – even in their sadness – they found ways to be kind. To be grateful. To be forgiving. 

I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say to my students on my last day. I had all of these intentions to talk about being active, living adventures, and taking on challenges. When I stood in front of them, my whole message fell apart and boiled down to just two words: be kind.

I told them that the only thing that matters in life is that you go about it doing your very best to be a good person. At the end of the day, no matter how much wealth, fame, or success you will have accumulated, if you look back on your life and know that you tried your hardest to treat others with kindness then you will be able to say that you achieved something truly important. I told them what I wish I had heard years and years ago: that you don’t need to waste so much time and energy worrying if you are good enough. You are. You always have been. Human beings are born into this world perfect: our flaws and our fears are meant to be there. They are part of what makes us unique and they will help you grow stronger, wiser, and more compassionate. Naming them, knowing them, never feeling the need to hide them away… that’s the foundation of allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Because vulnerability brings these flaws and fears into light, people have often mistaken it for weakness. But allowing yourself to be vulnerable is not weakness: instead it’s an act of strength. It’s a declaration that says “I know who I am, what I’m worth, and you can’t take that from me.”

I thanked my students for helping fill my days up with a lifetime of memories I’ll be able to replay in my head. I didn’t get to hug them goodbye but I did tell them that I loved them all.

There is a long list of accomplishments that I achieved at St. George’s that I could share as highlights. You can find most of them already shared as blog posts, podcasts, videos, and resources on ThePhysicalEducator.com. Just know that I put all of those on an equal footing with every shoelace I tied, jacket I zipped up, dad joke I delivered, and tear I wiped off. 

At the end of that last day, my colleagues surprised me with a physically-distanced party in the gym. I got to say thank you to everyone and let them know how much they all meant (and continue to mean) to me. Then, as the last person headed out, I got to say bye to that little blue gym and close yet another chapter in my life.

Why have I shared this with all of you? When the announcement went out to the faculty that I would be leaving the school, it was accompanied by a letter I wrote to them. I wanted people to hear it from me why I was making the decision. Similar to what I have done here, I didn’t shy away from letting people know that I had been hurting – both mentally and physically – for some time. 

In the responses I heard back from teachers, more than a few mention that they had been feeling the same way but didn’t know if it was ok to talk about it. Seeing my willingness to be open and honest about my health helped them find the courage to start addressing their own wellbeing. If sharing my story here with this large of an audience, if it just helps one person take positive action to end the cycle of suffering that they may be in, then it was worth it. 

I also wanted to share because there was a sense of clarity that I experienced in those last few days that I wish it hadn’t taken me quitting my job to be able to attain. I want to share some of those insights with you now so that you don’t have to get to that point to be able to make use of them.

First off, your health is everything. It’s not just about feeling good, being injury-free, or being a “positive role model” for your students. It’s about being able to think and see clearly. It’s about putting yourself in the best possible position to take the right action or make the right decision when you need to. It’s about being able to recognize which thoughts are real and which thoughts are just fabrications of your own anxiety and your fears. Nothing – nothing – is worth sacrificing your health over. Learn from my own mistakes and cherish it above everything else and be ruthless when setting boundaries to protect it.

Second, take some time this week and write down a list of EVERYTHING you have accomplished in your career. I don’t care how big or how small: write it down. Keep that list handy and continue to add to it over time. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve, to make something better, or to call a bellyflop and bellyflop and move on. However, that desire to improve should never cloud your vision when it comes to recognizing all of the great things that you have contributed to this world. Each of those wins was willed into existence by you, and it takes a lot of effort, courage, and strength to make something out of nothing. Celebrate yourself, balance your pride with a healthy dose of humility, and make sure to always look inside before you look outside for recognition. I stupidly wasted so much time being upset about not getting nominated for teaching awards. Now, I’m not eligible for them anymore. You know what? I’m putting thank you cards from my students up on my walls instead. It turns out that, looking back at it all, those were the only “awards” that would really matter to me anyway.

Third, make an effort to let colleagues know how much you appreciate them. You never know when someone might need a good, honest pick-me-up in the form of a compliment from one professional to another. In my last few days, I got to tell my colleagues how much I enjoyed teaching alongside them and how I stood in awe of their ability to teach kids throughout my time at the school. Thinking back, I don’t know why I didn’t share these types of things more often. I guess I wasted time and opportunity because I felt awkward letting someone know that I admired them. I honestly believe that that kind of culture – one of professional, mutual appreciation – can start to be built by a single person taking action. If you can, try to be that person. It might mean the world to someone.

Last thing, don’t ever hesitate to let a student know that you care about them. When I first started teaching, I was involved in a controversy: two students at the middle school that I taught at started a rumour that they had seen me at the local pub and that I had kissed an unnamed, unidentified student. Another student brought this to my attention and I remember being mortified: this was the kind of rumour that could end a career before it ever even really started. After some investigating and questioning, I found the two boys who were at the root of this whole mess. They confessed that they had started the rumour as a joke and I explained to them a) how hurtful it was and b) the danger it presented to my position at the school. They agreed to come to the principal’s office with me and let the principal know what was going on and how it all started. In exchange for their honesty and genuine desire to make things right, I told the principal that I didn’t want the boys to be punished for what they had done.

Everything worked out, but after that I decided I was never going to be in a closed room with students, I wouldn’t let students hug me… I was just going to play it safe and keep my distance.

When the Sandy Hook shootings took place, I remember hearing about the teacher who hid her students in the bathroom stalls. I remember reading about how she told each one of them that she loved them because she wasn’t sure if that was going to be the last thing they would ever hear.

This was right around the time I had started teaching elementary physical education at Royal Charles school, before I arrived at St. George’s. I told myself then and there that I would never deny a child an opportunity for a hug or an “I love you too”. 

The hard thing about teaching is that – in order to be good at it – you have to let your heart get involved. The hard thing about letting your heart get involved is that you open yourself up to the possibility of getting hurt. There are a lot of things I regret from the years I spent teaching. Letting my students know that I love them will never be one of those things.

So where do I go from here? 

In the weeks since I’ve left the school, I’ve been working hard to get healthy again. My mind still isn’t where I would like it to be – my thoughts continue to keep me up at night as they go to dark places – but I’m getting there. I’ve been exercising more than I have for as long as I can remember. I’m playing with my son, trying hard not to fill our tiny apartment up with PE equipment as I secretly keep trying to scratch my teacher itch. I’m hanging out with my wife, cooking meals together, and feeling baby #2 do his jumping jacks in her belly. I’m making time for friends that I haven’t been great at staying in touch with for years now. Mostly, I’m going for long walks during which I try to just be present. I’m hoping that it will help me put my mind back together again. One day, when my health and my family life are where I want them to be, I do plan on going back to teaching. There is still so much that I want to do and so much that I have to share. For now though, I’m going to continue to focus on putting first things first.

As for ThePhysicalEducator.com, I’m slowly catching up on content that I’ve been wanting to share forever (some of which may seem out of order as I do so). Things that kept getting pushed to the side or that I forgot I even made in the first place. I’m rediscovering how much I love helping fellow physical education teachers: taking time to answer emails with thoughtful replies, making time to build my capacity as a mentor, and even accepting a few speaking opportunities with local schools, colleges, and organizations to share some of my ideas and experience.

I’m not going to lie: I hesitated on sharing my decision to leave St. George’s mostly out of a sense of shame and guilt. Shame that I wasn’t “strong enough” to see this year – in which so many teachers are struggling – through until its end. Guilt that I had the privilege to make that call for myself. The website generates revenue (not a ton, which I’m definitely feeling now that my teacher salary is gone) and I had been putting money away to serve as a runway for when I did eventually decide to change careers. I’m privileged to be able to have this second source of income to fall back on for a couple of months.

Shame and guilt have shaped my life and my health for as long as I can remember. I don’t know where they first came from, although I am actively trying to figure that out. I’m tired of it, and I’m too tired to let them continue to have such a hold on me so I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to close my eyes, take a deep breath, and simply begin again.

This was a hard one for me to share. I know people will have their opinions about it. I want to thank you in advance for your respect and understanding. Really, what I’m trying to say here can be boiled down to the two same words I shared with my students: be kind.

Thanks so much for reading and for your support. Continue to take care of yourself!

Happy teaching!

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Joey Feith is the founder of ThePhysicalEducator.com. Having taught elementary physical education for 10 years, Joey is now focused on helping physical educators grow their confidence and competence as teachers.

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