The Floss of Education:
A Routine check Up for Teachers and Administrators
If you think of a viral dance move when I say floss, you've got the wrong idea for this read. I'm talking about slicing your gums razor wire. Twice a year, you're reminded to floss but rarely told why. Your common sense tells you that it helps keep your teeth clean and your gums healthy, but flossing also prevents tartar build up, bad breath, and even heart problems!
So, why do only thirty percent of Americans include this two minute routine into their day while seventy percent of the population brush their teeth twice a day?
There are several factors for my lack of flossing. My floss sits in the vanity in a tray rather than on the countertop. Because of this physical placement, I am more easily reminded to brush my teeth in the morning and at night. Another major factor is that I can walk around the house and poorly multitask while brushing. Then, of course, flossing can be kind of icky. Additionally, there is the occasional slip and slice which is never enjoyable. But when it comes down to it, I really don't have a sufficient excuse for neglecting to unwind a yard of floss and spending a couple minutes on my oral health.
Oral health is to Flossing as to Education is to what? I will argue that self-reflection has somehow become the floss of education. It's what we hear about a few times a year from experts, but often put away when we get home. Our common sense tells us that self-reflection gives clarity on our past, but the research points towards the future. It can easily become a piece of our daily routine, yet we listen to the many small excuses that we've fabricated. We hesitate to pause our busy day to slow down, unwind a yard, and reflect. Plus, there is really no option for multitasking while reflecting. Furthermore, there is an occasional slip and slice as we catch our past mistakes. Finally, just as brushing is much easier, so is a quick chat with a colleague. Those conversations happen a couple times a day and many of us use those brief and surface level discussions to check off our reflective box. We convince ourselves it is good enough.
If we make a habit of self-reflection, we will find a more comprehensive understanding of our day to day tasks and a new sense of creativity moving forward. This healthy habit has the potential to fine tune our educational practices and improve how we support our children. A few minutes of self-reflection and content creation has the power to gradually make a positive impact on ourselves, our schools, and our profession as a whole.
So, now the questions is how can we make it a habit? How do we force ourselves to floss? One thing you can do is set the floss on the counter. By this I mean, set a reminder in your phone. Save a blank time slot on your planner. Set your journal on your desk. Bookmark your Wix website or Google doc. Create a visual reminder that leads you to the resting place.
Unlike floss, there are several different ways to self-reflect. You can take the most private avenue which is journaling or you can begin the content creation journey through blogs, vlogs, and/or podcasts. Try one or research them all, but set your floss on the counter! Force yourself to get into the habit of self-reflection.
Just like any other habit, the routine will take time. You will fail and need to give yourself grace. You'll forget and need to try again tomorrow. There will be stagnant periods of angst. You may even wonder if the five or fifty minutes a day are impacting you. However, if you remain steady, you'll see the beauty growing from the muck.
It's my hope that you and I set our floss on the counter this year. I am optimistic that the educators reading this will not wait another six months to be reminded to embed the art of self-reflection. I believe that, with the start of the new year, this may be the healthy practice that teachers and administrators ingrain.