"Growth only happens when adversity comes knocking at your door."
How do we return back to school with COVID-19 impeding every thought process that educators go through year after year to prepare for back to school? The challenge to remain effective in meeting the needs of students becomes overwhelming. Planning and facilitating learning has taken on a whole new meaning. A digital explosion has reshaped the lens of how educators meet the learning needs of students. With school districts opting to implement virtual learning for extended periods of time or reopening with a hybrid model (face-to-face and remote learning combined), increases the burden of achieving instructional and digital demands. This approach to teaching and learning is an uncomfortable road to travel, yet it has the potential to position teachers to discover new qualities about who they are as practitioners. As you know, growth only happens when adversity comes knocking at your door. When it does come knocking at your door, what are you going to do to protect your beliefs and values about education? I suggest you...
Managing expectations gives us permission to let go of the norms and traditions associated with school settings as we know it. Our world has been turned upside down. There are many competing factors that are stopping the flow of creativity, enthusiasm, and acceptance of new roles and responsibilities. To name a few, the loss of life to COVID-19 and those who are fighting to stay alive have been some of the greatest distractions in our nation. I extend my condolences and prayers for family members who have lost loves ones, coupled with those still battling the virus. The effects of this pandemic are so enormous. There are not enough words to sum up its totality. To begin the process of moving forward, take a moment and reflect on where you are and where you want to be in the next 30 days. The only way to restore your sensibility is to be proactive in unpacking your thoughts and feelings about your current reality. By taking inventory of your emotional response, it will provide a baseline for where you should begin refueling your mind, body, and soul.
"Stay Within Your Circle of Control."
You may want to ask questions to start you on your journey, such as the following:
-What principles and concepts do I need to consider managing expectations of myself and students?
-What tools or strategies will I need to stay on the path of recovery?
-Who can assist me along the way?
Stay within your circle of control. Set achievable goals that are tailored to your exact needs, establish an accountability partner to provide encouragement along the way and celebrate small wins. Once you have accomplished your goals, create some more. Before you know it, you will be moving mountains. Find a collaborative group that is working towards the same goal(s). Connecting with like minded individuals will allow you to view challenges through a variety of lenses and see the possibilities. Most of all take care of your social and emotional well-being, by taking a break from the things that rob you of your joy. Recently, I purchased a shirt that says “Do more of what makes you happy.” It is important as an educator that you avoid getting caught up in the web of worry. Instead, seek things that will fuel excitement, fulfillment, and happiness, such as spending time with family or friends, breathe life into ideas you have forgotten about, try new recipes, take a walk, journal, give an unexpected gift, read a good book, join an exercise group or start a blog.
"Life is full of twists and turns."
Taking one step toward your goal, will put you one step closer to self-actualization. Your actions or inactions are the difference between what can be realized in your life during times of uncertainty. Life is full twists and turns, however we can learn to navigate uncharted waters with the right plan and tools in place. Let us not forget the main ingredient... determination. Our willingness is aligned to our purpose, which heavily relies on the execution of our value system.
We are stronger when we draw from principles and values that guide our decision making and give us perspective in the work that we do. Although the 2020-21 school year will not paint a traditional picture of how teachers respond and interact within the learning community, we can certainly approach it differently by keeping an open mind. Instead of spending time dwelling on what's wrong, we focus our attention on what is in our sphere of influence. Separate needs from wants. Develop action steps to address your immediate needs. Prioritize and execute at a reasonable pace to minimize anxiety and stress. Run your own race. Dalia Lama once expressed, "The goal is not to be better than the other man, but your previous self." Palms up, you've got this!
"Palms up, you've got this!"