Before we go any further, I want to proclaim that I am not in favor of skipping school. As a school leader, it is not my desire for this blog post to serve as a blank check for students and educators to pull a “Ferris Bueller” and to romp off the grid abandoning all semblance of responsibility.
There is a time and place for whimsical notions to transpire and we do have to give ourselves permission for the occasional escape. In the last couple of years, I learned about the concept of Whitespace from some educators I connect with on Twitter and Voxer. This is intentional time taken out of the scope and sequence of a packed day for reflection, relaxation or escape.
As a recovering workaholic principal, I was so uplifted by this idea. I knew that I needed a gut check for balance in my life between the home and the schoolhouse. Knowing that I needed training wheels to make this happen, I asked our school secretary to hold me accountable. She had access to my calendar, so she plugged in times for me take some intentional intervals of time away from the grind of the Principal’s Office to recharge. Since I am an unabashed fan of The Beatles, she titled it “White Album” Space as nod their classic 1968 double album.
If George Harrison was principal, then his secretary may have titled scheduled Whitespace as “Here Comes the Sun” Space.
“Here Comes the Sun” was written on a beautiful afternoon in an English Garden circa 1969. This oft-covered and referenced gem from the final studio album of The Beatles was written by Harrison during a business meeting he skipped. The prospect of taking time away outweighed the need to be at ponderous meeting. It just so happens that George’s hookey sidebar was spent in the English Garden of a “little known” guitarist named Eric Clapton. Mr. Clapton just so happened to have an acoustic guitar handy for his pal George. A timeless classic was created for the soundtrack of our lives. “Here Comes the Sun” has been covered by bands and played at weddings. The song has found it way on any one of my playlists or mix tapes over the years.
I cherish “Here Comes the Sun.” It’s my #OneSong for 2017. The tune is one of my go-to anthems for hope. It is a salve that uplifts and inspires each time I listen. There are so many cool moments embedded within that song from George and Paul’s harmonies, Ringo’s shifting time signature drum fills and those hand claps during the bridge. Those supreme hand claps always speak to me as a call to embrace the eternal promise beyond the horizon.
An intentional move to gather time for renewal can stir inspiration in the most unexpected of ways. Educators are a dedicated bunch and we sometimes default to binding our moves to calendars, meetings and pacing guides. I have been guilty of forsaking balance and meaningful time with family in order to meet that district deadline or network at a ponderous meeting. Allowing ourselves the time to break away for from the grind is essential for our well-being. There are so many simple ways to accomplish it from changing up the routines of your day:
- Ask a colleague about the last movie she or he saw.
- Sharing with students what’s on your playlist and ask about theirs.
- Spend time with a favorite song or quote from a life-changing book.
- Follow a few tweets from a inspiring hashtag on Twitter like #JoyfulLeaders or #CollaborativePD.
- Create something new!
- Spend a few minutes savoring the silence of your thoughts.
Finding that time can be challenging. Those “other duties as assigned” in the schoolhouse pull on us relentlessly. We at times lose sight of what is sincere and meaningful for our noble profession. As educators dedicated to the quest of serving and supporting all students, carving out “Here Comes the Sun” Space is a necessary track upon which we must move. Perhaps taking that time may lead to the creation of a timeless and universal song like George Harrison’s?