Running on Empty? You Need a “Refill Station”

This spring, many educators and administrators experienced working from home for the first time. We were teaching, leading, and planning in the same spaces where we cook, clean, parent children, care for pets, exercise, relax, and sleep. Our work life and home life suddenly merged without any time to plan or prepare. Long-established routines were upended, making our days seem anchorless, with little to mark the passing of time.

Additionally, we have not experienced a traditional summer break. Many summer plans and activities have been postponed or canceled, and there are many unknowns for the start of the new school year. Instead of returning to school rested and refreshed, educators report feeling anxious and exhausted. We are running on empty. We need to refill.

Refilling Station

I am reminded of my colleague Caltha Crowe’s third-grade class. Her students named their positive time-out spot in the classroom the “Refill Station.” They described it as a place away from others, where you can stay until you have regained your self-control. Consider creating your own refill station, a place to go where you can refill with energy, happiness, confidence, and strength. Where is that place for you? A room or space in your home? Somewhere outside? Does it include music, movement, meditation, reading, watching, or listening? My refill station is on the sidewalks around my town. I walk, listen to music, and take in the nature around me. I feel so much better when I return home, even after just a quick walk around the neighborhood. I feel lighter, positive, and ready to tackle the next challenge.

Be sure your self-care routine includes a way to refill with positive energy. When the school year begins, you are going to give it all you’ve got, and then some. Make a visit to your refill station a part of your daily routine.


Written by Kristen Vincent, Responsive Classroom Consulting Teacher
Tags: First Day of School, self-care

7 Replies to “Running on Empty? You Need a “Refill Station””

  • This is such an awesome reminder! Thank you! I remember that video and how so many teachers loved the name “Refill Station”. I am creating my own “Refill Station”. It will be void of a cell phone and email.

  • I loved the video. I had not heard of a refill station before now. Thank you.

  • LOVE this. I had not thought of it this way, but my screen house is absolutely my refill station! Surrounded on three sides by trees, it is such a nice respite from Spring through Fall. And usually I am so busy running around the country doing Summer workshops that I rarely spend time there. This year I have made it a practice to spend time there every day no matter what. Maybe I read there. Maybe I eat lunch there. We all need to find our place for some peace.

  • My cat Willow Jasmine became my assistant teacher during remote learning. She loved joining me on my google meets with my students. Petting her when I am stressed with internet issues has become my refill station.

Comments are closed.