This blog was originally written as a Guest Blog for DBC Inc. You can check out the blog and subscribe to get all of the DBC blogs here.
My life is loud. As a superintendent and parent, things are fast and busy. And rarely do I stop. My family gives me a hard time because I will often come home from church with a list of ideas that came to me during the message. They say I am “off-task” – I tend to think I was divinely inspired. But I think that part of the inspiration is simply because I stop. And sit. And listen. And open my heart and mind.
This past Sunday morning though, I forgot to bring my notebook where I often jot down my thoughts. And as I was digging through my bag, I found a crumpled-up page of notes… “a lost blog” if you will. It was dated March 8, 2020 – before my world (and probably yours too) came to a screeching halt with the onset of COVID.
Spring Break had just begun and in the quiet of those first few days, I came face to face with some deep thoughts and worries I had been grappling with… I was waiting for my first round of edits on my book – and I was so anxious as to whether the words I had poured out on those pages were worthy of a read. I realized that Sunday morning that while my angst might be one part of the story, it’s not the whole story. We have a choice in how we respond to life, even in seasons while we wait.
This crumpled-up sheet of paper had the 4 points outlined below. As I now think about this moment in time, as we all wish that COVID was not a part of our everyday lives in education, these thoughts seemed even more true.
1. Take comfort in those around you, who support the work you are doing.
If you’re not a Dr. Brené Brown fan already, just take an hour to watch The Call to Courage on Netflix. I promise you’ll thank me. One thing she talks about is that we have to be vigilant about the feedback we accept – and if it coming from those “outside the arena” who have no clue about the impossible context of what we’re trying to operate in, we need to see where there is value and then move on. As we tread more deeply into this challenging season, we need to as James Clear notes, “feel compliments as deeply as (we) feel insults” and cling to the many people who are cheering us on.
2. Draw confidence from the work that has prepared you for this moment.
One of the greatest challenges with COVID has been this transition to remote learning (and now, the overwhelming reality for so many to manage remote learning AND in-person learning AND supporting students who are out on short-term quarantine). But remember that the very things that made you an incredible teacher in the classroom are the very things that will make you great in any kind of teaching environment – your heart, your passion and your ability to connect kids to one another and to your content.
3. Dig into your calling and let the time galvanize your mission.
I’m not going to lie. This has been a really hard couple of weeks (months). I wrote Thrive Through the Five because while I LOVE my job, there is this small percentage that is just very, very difficult (the 5%) and I wanted to help others not just survive those moments, days and seasons, but truly thrive. Yet here we are late into 2020 and the season seems a whole lot larger than 5%. But here’s what I know to be true… This crisis has galvanized our resolve in so many ways: to provide a safe environment for our students to learn and do the things that they love; to overcome equity issues in the ways we’ve provided devices, internet and access to learning; and to grow and develop ourselves professionally to meet the ever-changing needs of our students.
4. Get really clear about what you want for your life.
Benjamin Franklin used to ask this powerful question: “What has become clear to you since we last met?” If we are going to be the best versions of ourselves and serve our families and organizations well, we must have clarity around what we want to do and who we want to be. And while I would not have wished this challenging season on anyone, it has absolutely changed my perspective and given me clarity on what is most important in life.
What are you waiting on? For COVID to end and for things to go back to normal? For a job opportunity to come to fruition? Remember that we have a choice in how we respond. So take comfort in those who are supporting you on this journey; draw confidence in the incredible work you’ve done before this season began; dig into your calling and let it propel you past the adversity; and allow this time to provide clarity around what you want to do and who you want to be in life.