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Hey teachers, get lost!


June 14, 2022 Jonathan Teghtmeyer, ATA News Editor-in-Chief


In my mid-20s, a few years into my teaching career, I decided to spend one summer on a solo backpacking trip through Europe. 

I flew first to Frankfurt, my first time overseas, my first time travelling alone. I spent the first two days visiting museums and seeing a few sites, trusting my guidebook for recommendations and directions. It was enjoyable, but I also felt like I wasn’t quite catching the full vibe of what the city had to offer.

On the morning of the third day, I decided just to go out for a walk. Although I had a map with me, I purposely left it in my pocket. I didn’t know where I was headed or really where I was going; I just followed where my feet took me. When I reached a corner, I looked down all the streets and turned down the one that seemed to be calling me.

A few minutes later, I found myself in the absolutely stunning Römerberg, a medieval town square surrounded by classic German style half-timbered houses and peaked roofs.  

This walk ended up becoming very instrumental in how the rest of my amazing trip evolved. Whenever I wasn’t sure what I was going to do in a new city on a particular day, I would put my guidebook and map away and go for a walk. Literally speaking, I would get lost. I got lost in Munich, Berlin and Brugge. I got lost in Amsterdam, Paris and London. And it was great.

Colleagues, I do not need to tell you how exhausting and trying the past year has been. It was preceded by the 2021/22 school year that was equally (and likely even more so) exhausting and trying. I know that the summer of 2021 was short, rife with anxiety about the return back to work, and ultimately unsatisfying in providing teachers with the break they needed.

The anticipation for summer 2022 is through the roof, and it likely began last September.

So, get lost. I mean it.

You have earned a long, relaxing and uninterrupted summer break. Get away from school and leave it all behind. There is lots to worry about related to school and there is always work that needs doing, but right now, this summer, you need to focus on you. Be selfish. 

Whatever is waiting for you at school will still be there in September. And regardless of what happens this summer, you will manage and you will get through those things when you return — one way or another. The best way, in my opinion, for you to be ready to face those challenges in the fall is not to burden yourself with planning and preparations during your time off. The best way to face those challenges is to be well rested.

Get lost, get out of here, go away. Get lost in your garden. Get lost in your backyard or your neighbourhood. Get lost in your county, town or city. Get lost on a trip in Canada, south of the border, in Europe, or Asia, Australia or Africa. Follow your feet and see where they take you. Get lost physically, get lost mentally, get lost literally or get lost metaphorically. Just leave it behind and go.

When I was in Europe and I would go on these walks, sometimes I would lose complete track of where I was and which way I needed to go back (some towns were harder to navigate than others), but I always brought my map. When I was ready to return, inevitably I would find out where I was and I would find my way back.

The best part of getting lost was seeing new things, creating new experiences and then finding myself along the way.
So, colleagues, have a great summer. Now, get lost. ❚

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