The days before spring break can be a fun and exciting time in schools: One last respite before the sprint to summer can bring out eagerness and anticipation.
In many communications offices, meanwhile, spring break is a chance to catch up on work pushed back by the press of events. At the same time, the printer needs your spring magazine, you’re welcoming incoming families to your school, and end-of-year activities are looming.
If ever there was a year to take that vacation, 2021 would be the time. Every marketing and communications professional I know in education is feeling not just the strain of this school year but also the pain.
The challenges and demands have been endless, from dealing with lockdown and closed campuses to responding authentically to Black@ to reporting the news of children and co-workers who have contracted coronavirus.
In dealing with all of this and more, communications directors have done outstanding work this year. I guarantee that, in your school community, you have many more quiet supporters than you realize.
If you can reward yourself with even a couple of days off — totally and completely off the grid — please do. You’ve earned it.
If, however, you need to stay on deck over spring break, a short exercise — Two Whys and a What — might help you regain your mojo for an end-of-year push.
To start with, think about why you do this work. Is it because you love being around education and its environment of children full of potential and spirit? Are you drawn to the intellectual challenges of connecting with disparate constituencies? Are you simply a born storyteller or photographer or designer?
Next, consider why you work at this particular school. What is it about the place? Is it the very specific mission? The history? Your co-workers? The commitment to social justice? Or is it more personal: the opportunities and responsibilities you have, for instance?
Finally, what distinguishes your school, makes it absolutely essential to your community? Maybe it’s the individual attention given to students. Or it’s the educational and/or spiritual philosophy, the makeup of the student body, or the needs that would go unmet without your school.
Write down your answers on a piece of paper. Then set that list aside for a bit.
When you come back again to the list, I’m betting that you’ll discover that many of the things you wrote have been untouched by the past year’s turmoil.
The core of your connection to the school, its students, your colleagues — it’s still there. It’s just gotten buried under a heap of work and some recent scar tissue.
Hang onto this list. When you’ve had one too many 12-hour days, or when developing events have overtaken your weekend plans once more, pull out your piece of paper. Remind yourself that this is why you do it.
And if you see a chance to run for the hills or the beach this spring, go for it!
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