Brianne Gidcumb | June 2014

Refilling the (Educator) Cup

“It is not selfish to refill your own cup, so that you can pour into others. It’s not just a luxury. It is essential.”

Refilling the Educator Cup, Education ClosetI came across this quote posted by @WeAreTeachers on Twitter recently, and I’ve been reflecting on it a lot. As I close the book on my tenth year of teaching and I begin packing up my classroom, I have mixed feelings, as I do every year. I have regrets that I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to this year, while at the same time I anticipate taking time to dream about everything I’ll do next year. I’m exhausted from the grueling pace of the past ten months, and I’m reenergized that I’ll have time to recharge and take care of myself. I have anxiety over the many things on my summer “to-do” list, and I’m filled with gratitude that I have a job that I am so passionate about that I want to spend my time off engaged in research, planning, and professional development.

Every summer, I struggle with these mixed feelings until it’s time to start back up in August, and often, I come back without a full cup because I didn’t allow myself to give into the “luxury” of the summer.  This idea of refilling the cup being “essential” rather than a “luxury” speaks to me now more than ever. It’s important that we can recognize how essential it is to tend to our own needs as individuals and as educators so that we can best serve our kids, and in light of that, I’ve spent this week creating a summer “refill” list.

Refill #1: Take a break! I’m not a person who is good at relaxing. As a child on family vacations to the beach, I was restless. As an adult, I feel guilty taking a break (“I really should be finishing up a project, or I could be spending the money more responsibly.”). I’ve finally learned that, for me, the perfect “break” is allowing myself time in the city sightseeing, enjoying theater, or going to museums. I’m at peace and relaxed when I am surrounded by things that inspire me. Whatever your happy place is, remind yourself that it is not a luxury- it is essential!

Refill #2: Read, read, read! I don’t know about you, but I buy a new professional book roughly every month that I am so excited about, and when things get chaotic, which they inevitably do, those great resources end up in a pile on my nightstand. What a blessing to have this time to engage in professional reading at my own pace, and that’s exactly what I’ll be doing (maybe by a pool)!

Refill #3: Start making next year’s connections. The new National Coalition for Core Arts Standards were just released this week, so this summer is a perfect time to reflect and revise. The new standards lend themselves so naturally to the processes in Common Core and NGSS standards: why not take some time and map out those connections? Schedule some time to plan intentionally, but also have a system for keeping track of those ideas, connections, and “to-do’s” that come up at unplanned times, and set them aside for your intentional planning time. 

Refill #4: Do something that feeds your soul. As much as I am passionate about teaching, it is so important to have another go-to, something else that nourishes me. For me, that “something” is performing in musicals, so I try to perform in at least one show each year. It gives me an opportunity to rediscover my passion for the arts first-hand, as well as to connect with other people that share my passion. Engage in something (outside of teaching) that inspires you!

What are you planning to do this summer to recharge? I’d love to hear what’s on your “refill” list!


About the Author

Brianne is a former music educator from Chicago and current graduate class instructor with EdCloset’s Learning Studios. She earned her Masters degree in Music Education from VanderCook College of Music and has over a decade of experience in the elementary general music classroom. With her experience in the performing arts, Brianne is dedicated to building connections between the arts and Common Core Standards, 21st century learning skills, inquiry and project-based learning. In addition to her work with EducationCloset, Brianne is a yoga instructor in the Chicagoland area. You can also find Brianne here: