Turn the Brightness All the Way Up

Alex Garcia

Wake up, get ready, panic, read emails, panic, change plans, scroll through facebook, panic, teach, sanitize, eat, gossip, laugh, panic, send emails, grade, contact guardians, plan, sanitize, change plans, panic, sleep…. or something like that. Attempting to explain how this year has affected me as an educator, and even just as a person feels like an impossible feat. It also in no way begins to even scratch the surface of how educators in America and even around the world feel. Personally, this semester has felt one giant steaming pile of ungraded & unsubmitted assignments. But luckily I have a mask to protect me from the stench.

While this semester has been difficult, it’s also brought on a deep sense of reflection and appreciation and there are so many roses to stop and smell. In the education world, we sometimes call these “roses” bright spots.

In short, bright spots are the diamonds in the rough or the silver lining to an otherwise lackluster and gloomy cloud. While there are always situations that test our resilience, there are also always moments that can bring instances of pride, appreciation, & even joy. I wanted to make a list of 8 bright spots in my life not only to have a space to self reflect but also in order to help others reflect and FOCUS on the bright spots in their lives.

  1. My partner. He is literally one of the sweetest people in my life and knows how to make me smile and laugh.

  2. My dogs. They are such great couch cuddlers!

  3. My classroom. I have a routine everytime I come into my class. I turn on my candle warmer with my coffee candle, turn on my salt lamp, open my laptop, and bask in the light that comes in through the windows.

  4. COFFEE!!!! No other words are needed.

  5. Social Media. Now here me out. Yes, there is so much drama and negativity, but I also follow so many people who are genuinely funny and create content that makes me laugh and smile.

  6. My educator community. I am not in this alone! My peers and colleagues play such a huge role in me being able to focus on the positives. Whether they are just listening or giving advice, they prove to be necessary for my well being.

  7. Music. There is not a day that goes by where I do not listen to music. Music truly makes mundane tasks like cleaning, sending emails, and driving enjoyable.

  8. STUDENTS! Ya’ll. I get to hang out with the most awesome people in my community on a daily basis. Yes, they drive me insane and do not always make the best of decisions as it pertains to their academics, but they are lively, honest, authentic, funny, thoughtful, and resilient. I have so much pride in them. Even through a world-wide pandemic that has drastically shifted their lives, they still laugh, complete course work (begrudgingly so), go to work, help take care of their families, work towards their hopes and dreams, make tik-toks, talk about things like sharks, gorillas, anime and ask questions like “Where does fat go when you lose weight?” or “Do you believe in Ghosts?” They are truly some of the brightest spots of my days.

Now your list is going to be different. Maybe your bright spots consist of your family, your bed, taking a shower, checking the mail, telling people you love them, watching your favorite television program, being alone, mowing the yard and the list goes on and on. Whatever it may be there is always something to appreciate and to help you move past moments of frustration, anger, uncertainty, or sadness. I don’t mean to say to ignore your problems, however in those moments when you feel unmotivated or stuck, let these bright spots guide you.

So, what are your bright spots?

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