The Conscious Classroom

Summer Break: Conscious Endings

June 09, 2020 Amy Edelstein Season 1 Episode 13
The Conscious Classroom
Summer Break: Conscious Endings
The Conscious Classroom
Summer Break: Conscious Endings
Jun 09, 2020 Season 1 Episode 13
Amy Edelstein

The end of the school year is a special time. Conscious endings and appreciation for the heartwarming things that happened during the course of the year make all the difference. As educators, we need to learn to let go, nourish ourselves with lessons learned, and release ourselves to enjoy the downtime. In this episode of The Conscious Classroom, Amy Edelstein will help you end the year on a note of positivity and resolution.

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Show Notes Transcript

The end of the school year is a special time. Conscious endings and appreciation for the heartwarming things that happened during the course of the year make all the difference. As educators, we need to learn to let go, nourish ourselves with lessons learned, and release ourselves to enjoy the downtime. In this episode of The Conscious Classroom, Amy Edelstein will help you end the year on a note of positivity and resolution.

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Summer Break: Creating Conscious Endings
with Amy Edelstein



Hello and welcome to the Conscious Classroom Webinar. My name is Amy Edelstein. This is a month that many of us in education have been waiting for, the end of the school year and summer break.


Today we’re going to talk about how to end the year consciously both for ourselves and for our students, how to absorb the lessons we’ve learned from the year so that they nourish and revitalize us, how to let go of unfinished business, areas where we had challenges, so that we can really rest over the summer, rest and rejuvenate, allow ourselves to open up different parts of our being so that we become more creative, more well-rounded human beings and so that we’re ready for our classrooms and our students next year.


Usually when we get to the end of the school year, we forget to ask ourselves questions about how to relate to the year in order to bring greater meaning to that which we’ve dedicated ourselves to for the last nine or ten months.


You’ve given yourself practically and emotionally, passionately and idealistically. Sometimes you’ve had to drag yourself into the classroom with the winter cold or a sleepless night and you did it because that’s what teachers do. Teachers really go above and beyond the call of duty in order to be there for our students day in and day out.


Over the year, I imagine if you’re anything like me, there have been times where you had to really dig deep in yourself to pull something out of yourself, to respond in a way that maybe was beyond what you were feeling. Maybe there was a child who was so filled with resistance and wanted to give up and they had convinced you that you should give up on them and still you found a way to reach out to them to inspire them once again. You know, maybe you were working in a bureaucracy that just seemed so inhuman, that was designed not for children or for teachers but for some kind of factory efficiency that has nothing to do with real life.


Maybe sometimes I’m sure we all did struggle just with the sheer amount of papers on the corners of our desk that needed our review, homework to grade, documents stacked up in Google Classroom and we did it. Oh, you did it. You made it to the end of the year. I imagine that you saw yourself as you reflect on it now together, rise up in ways you didn’t expect.


Go beyond the limit. Express something extraordinary that maybe went unnoticed but you noticed and maybe also you saw yourself fall short of what you wished you could have given or done. Falling short of how present you wanted to be or how much you wanted to give or accomplish.


In this part of today’s webinar, I would like you to put your attention on what was fulfilling. Before the significance of these fulfilling moments washes away, like sandcastles and by the summer waves, I would like you to take some time to bring in the positive moments. Even if right now you’ve forgotten them, let’s turn our attention there and allow those positive moments to nourish yourself and your being.


In a similar way, muscles store nutrients in them, so that there are strength and resources there when we need to jump and run or catch, leap beyond, run for the bus, catch a train, run for the soccer ball, for your child or your neighbor’s child or your niece and nephew. 


Our emotional being also stores nutrients from the positive moments we experience and our emotional being holds those resources so that when we need strength, we have emotional and inner strength to respond to more challenging circumstances or for the summer, using those strengths to renew and rejuvenate ourselves after the long school year.


These are resources we want to be storing all throughout the year but especially now at the end of the year.


Reach for a pen and a piece of paper or open up a new document on your device and let’s take these next few moments to reflect on those positive situations that happen, those positive experiences whether they were large or small.


So when you have your paper or your blank document, write down the first five funny, quirky, endearing, surprising memories from this school year that come to mind.


Even if they’re small compared to some of your frustrations or worries, find them. They’re there. Put your attention on them. 


Maybe it was a joke you told that landed and that really the kids responded to. Maybe it was a child’s breakthrough and a good grade that they weren’t expecting. Maybe it was one of those fun moments in the hall when the teens are hanging out and allow you to join in with their fun. Maybe it’s a touching moment where you shared some important mentoring advice. Maybe it was a breakthrough with your principal or superintendent.


But remember those fun moments, the positive moments of the year and as you write down your memory, really recall how you felt. What were the emotions? What was the environment? What was the temperature? What was the sensation?


As you think about those moments, you might find yourself smiling again. You can let that happen. You might feel moved or warm in your heart. Notice how that warmth can spread, relaxing your whole nervous system.


You might feel a little lightness of being and let your shoulders drop and your spine lengthen. Feel a little weightlessness.


Over the next couple of weeks, while the school year is still fresh in your mind, make some new notes. You can focus on one experience, see how many small details you can recall about it. Again notice the light in the room at the time, the quality of a student’s voice, the words said or not said, quirky exchanges, dance moves, little insights you had, little breakthroughs of care.


See if you can recall the sensations in your body at the time. Recall your emotions. This is non-analytical, non-judgmental. You’re just practicing putting your attention on the detail and allowing your whole being and especially your emotional inner being to absorb the positivity of that exchange, that memory, that moment.


You’re really trying to fill the time capsules in yourself, so that those time capsules will be there, filled with strength and positivity during those times when you need to process things that are more challenging.


This is an exercise that you can repeat over and over again and really see it as part of your end of your processing, your preparation for the next year, your way of clearing off your desk, so that you’re closing off the year preparing space for the new and making these last nine or ten months really count.


The end of the school year as a whole can sometimes feel bittersweet. In many ways, it’s a relief, the sense of open time stretching before us, time for us to be not to be on the clock, time for ourselves, for our friends, for our family.


For a lot of us, summertime is a time to be in nature. We exercise. We read or garden, have cookouts, visit our favorite people, our favorite places. I know I often spend more time journaling, writing, contemplating, meditating. Those things that I love to do when I feel like there’s just time, time to be, time to think, time to appreciate and immerse in that current of life.


You know, maybe you’ve had a hard year this year. Maybe your overwhelming feeling at the end of the year is a sense of being tired, deeply tired. Maybe it was disagreements with your school policy or school culture or district leadership. Maybe there were issues with individual students who got under your skin. It happens to all of us. Maybe there was frustration for students with issues you felt you just couldn’t help and maybe the kids made it difficult to want to help them after a certain point.


In this session today, we’re going to allow space for that to be. Those are real experiences. They’re common experiences. We want to deepen our understanding of our own self center and how to fuel our inner strength for our own outer stability just as we try to fuel our students’ inner strength for their outer stability.


As we move into the summertime and out of the classroom and the day to day relentless schedule, the way we allow ourselves to process and let go of these experiences, the way we integrate understanding into ourselves, the way we allow ourselves to grow through them is all important to our own well-being and it’s also very important to the quality of our teaching as we move forward.


We invested so much in learning how to teach and developing our teaching style. We want to cherish that and protect that so that we’re always nourishing ourselves, creating positive reinforcements around ourselves so that we’re not overtaxed, overburdened, beleaguered by some of the challenges that are inevitable even in the best of schools.


When we process our experiences in this kind of positive manner, they nurture us even when they’re difficult. When we just try to move on without tying up loose ends of the challenging experiences, they often fester in us and the effect is cumulative. We might not see it but they’re like a small weight on our psyche, even if it just feels like it’s thin as a gauze veil. Those add up over time. 


They gray our vision. They zap our energy for teaching and they take a toll on our energy for being, being with ourselves, being with those we love, doing what we love, being happy about life itself. So I thought that right now at the beginning of summer, we would take some conscious time to release.


You get yourself ready to do a short practice right now to allow space around those more challenging events, to allow yourself to let go, to allow yourself to draw well-being from your own inner core, your inner sense of the possible. 


If you’re not in a good environment to do this now, take some time when you’re at home and you’re able to do a little bit of reflection, conscious endings, creating space for new beginnings.


So let’s sit in our best meditation posture with our back straight, spine tall, head balanced at the top of your neck, feeling gravity pulling you down into the chair, feeling the contact of your feet with the floor. 


Notice your inhalation and exhalation. Noticing how the breath creates well-being, oxygenating your blood and as your blood moves through your body, it oxygenates all of the cells. Let your body be alert, awake and relaxed and notice the breath going in and going out.


Now without going in to the details of whichever story, memory, incident are still weighing on your mind, notice as you sit still and quietly any discomfort. It may be physical. It may be emotional and just look for adjectives to describe that. Queasy, sleepy, heavy, angry, sharp, sour, bitter feelings, fearful feelings, defeated feelings, tightness in the stomach, in the shoulders, in the head.


Take a deep inhalation and a long and slow exhalation. At your own pace, take a few deep inhalations and exhalations. 


Allow the breath to revitalize yourself without trying to make any specific feeling go away and without overly focusing on them. Not allowing them to take up the whole screen of your awareness. Keep a little bit of awareness on the breath going in and the breath going out.


Now imagine that the breath, as you exhale, carries out with it all the toxins stored up in your body. The toxins from cortisol, the stress hormone. The toxins from emotional fatigue and burnout. Let all of those release out of your body with the exhalation. 


Without trying to solve any particular issue, come to conclusions about the things you did right or the things you did wrong, let your body and mind release those feelings for now. There may still be actions you need to take, further support to process that you need to attend to.


For now, simply allow your body and your mind to practice releasing with the exhalation the stress and tiredness that builds up in your body.


Now allow yourself to rest in open awareness. Let the thoughts fade into the background. Let the vibrancy and mystery of awareness come into the foreground of your attention. Consciously recalibrate and focus your attention on that quality of being aware. Let your thoughts and memories for the time being go into the background. 


Those thoughts and memories and issues are like stars and planets in the night sky. They’re still there. But you can put your attention on the space, on the sky, removing your attention from those planets and stars, those issues no matter how big they may be, no matter how hot they may be.


So keep focusing on that space, letting yourself rest. Let the tension in your shoulders melt. Let your stomach soften. Let your diaphragm relax. Let your breath deepen.


Now begin to bring your attention back and when you hear the bell, let the bell really signal the end of this exercise, the end of processing for now, the end of consciously trying to release. Let yourself just be. Let yourself move on and have trust in your own ability to process, to handle, to renew, to seek further support you might need and to fully and consciously move on into enjoyment, into the summer, trusting that you will process what you need to process. You will learn what you need to learn and you’re able to let go without dwelling or ruminating on anything that happened during this year.


Wonderful. You can do that throughout the summer as often as you need to. You can bring that exercise with you during the school year so that you’re consciously creating space, creating breaks and creating bookends for the school year, so that the experiences don’t weigh on you and accumulate over time. But they’re like waves that rise up and then dissipate. They get absorbed back into the ocean. Let all of the experiences and emotions get absorbed back into that current of life.


The main ingredient of this is allowing yourself to trust that you will process what you need to and seek support, seek counsel of friends or professionals. Recognizing that your own well-being is so very important to what you teach. It’s what the students will absorb from you. It’s what they will learn from you by your example and for your own happiness, your own love of life, your own fulfillment and your own creative potential. You want to make sure that you allow yourself to pursue those things that you know will provide support over time.


In the summer, really give yourself to what you’re passionate about, what you love to do without excuse, without justification and if you find that you are not quite sure what you’re passionate about, start with little things that you like. You like to go for a walk. You like to sit in the garden. You like to listen to the morning birds. You like to watch the sunset. You like the coolness of the evening air. You like to visit friends and family. You like to be with your pets. Maybe you like to write or journal or write poetry or create art or read. 


Let yourself enjoy and really pursue that which you love. 


Now if you’re still in school, you can bring this in a student-appropriate way to the conscious endings of the year. Have students, one of their final exercises, write an essay about their wins of the year or maybe you can ask them to write about their smallest win, their smallest victory, so there’s no competition in the room.


Maybe they ask someone they liked out on a date. Maybe they forgave a friend who got them mad. Maybe they had the courage to change their hairstyle. Maybe they had the courage to join a club where they thought they wouldn’t fit in.


Let them find those small things and have them write about what they were able to do in the positive, the challenges they overcame, the resistance in themselves that they overcame, the strength that they found, the sweetness of going beyond their limitations.


For very high pressure schools, for kids who are very competitive and who are always under pressure to do well and to achieve, to find their super power and unleash it and fix the world. Focusing on small human contacts can be very important to them. Valuing their personhood rather than their achievements can be very important.


For students who have much less confidence who maybe come from a less academically-oriented school, for those students who do excel and apply themselves, validate those experiences. Let them write about it. Let them internalize it. Let them process it. Let them create their own time release capsules of positivity. 


Even your most difficult students need encouragement and oftentimes they’re that difficult because they’re so hard on themselves and they’ve internalized very harsh voices that they’ve – that have been directed at them. 


Help them to deconstruct some of that. Help them to find something to be proud of, something to care about, something to call their own, something to love about themselves. 


We don’t have to fall in love with every single child. It’s not a requirement of being a good teacher. When we can give the tools to kids, to consciously reflect on their successes on the positivity that they’ve experienced on their small victories, we give them ways to love themselves, to love their own process of growing up, to cultivate curiosity, to cultivate care and to cultivate the ability to calm down intense and negative emotions, so that they can create a positive world within and without.


We want to allow our youth to be as courageous and passionate and creative as possible. That’s what’s going to make them the most delightful to teach. It’s what’s going to give them the resources to be successful. It’s what’s going to help them find meaning and purpose in a life and an education process that sometimes emphasizes too much on outcomes and less on quality of life. 


So as you turn your attention towards the end of the year, their grades are going to speak for themselves. Their class rank is going to speak for themselves. Their scores on standardized tests are enough to qualify and quantify their academics.


What you can give them is a sense of value of their world as a human being, their inner world, which really isn’t inner. It’s also outer, which is why we call – we talk about inner strength for outer stability. Who are these people? How do they weather challenges? How do they learn to care about themselves and others? What are ways that they’ve grown? 


Validate that for them. Allow them to come to completion with the school year and then you can send them on their way for the summer. 


Let’s do a short love and kindness practice so we can close out the school year for ourselves and for our students. 


Bring yourself into your meditative posture with your spine tall, relaxed but alert, untangling your limbs so that your hands are resting in your lap or on your thighs or on the desk in front of you. Your legs are uncrossed and your feet solidly planted on the floor.


First bring to mind people you really care about, family and friends, a cherished mentor, someone who makes you smile and send them this wish. May you be happy. May you be filled with joy and well-being. May you experience goodness and support. May you be surrounded by love and kindness. 


Now picture yourself and extend to yourself this wish. May I be happy. May I experience ease, vitality and lightness of being. May my heart expand and embrace first of all myself and may I experience love and kindness.


Now picture all your students and send them this wish. May you be happy. May you experience the light-heartedness of youth. May you be filled with curiosity to learn. May you have fun with friends and family and may you be safe and experience love and kindness.


And you can begin to bring your attention back. We can close the contemplation with the sound of the bell.


Thank you. I wish you a very good summer. There are plenty of additional resources on and I look forward to the next installment.


[End of transcript]



Transcription by Prexie Magallanes as Trans-Expert at