Taking Care of Oneself is Not Selfish: Building Resilience is a Life Skill Requirement For Us All

Are you ready for the never-ending evolution of life which is quicker, faster, deeper, more complex, engaging, and messy than ever before?   You should be … for we are all living in this remarkable period of time.  And it won’t simply just go away or return to a memory which is long, lost, and gone.  For we live in a time where resilience continues to be the guiding light as we all evolve together.  There is no going back.  It’s all evolving forward …
“Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes.” [Psychology Today]
So I reach out to you today and share a few ideas which I believe need to be seriously considered as we refresh ourselves.  For parenting and teaching are exhausting.  But I am writing this piece specifically to my colleagues who are educators.
First off: TEACHING IS A FIRST RESPONDER PROFESSION.  So handle it like one.
Take care of yourself.  Every day.  And if possible, every hour. Not just on weekends. 
Due to the demands of the position, and the intensity of the student profile we are now working with, we MUST see ourselves in this light: When ever you open your school and your classroom, you must be prepared for the human condition to present itself with no reservations.  
 
Simply, as life continues to experience a quickening, where everything is moving at lightening speed, with all of its bells, whistles, and stress: We cannot remove ourselves nor our schools & classrooms from the human condition from which we ALL experience; it presents itself everyday and will continue to do so.  So we need to take care of ourselves on this path.  And please don’t misrepresent this transformation as something that is unique to schools within the poverty band-width; it’s everywhere.
Sure, our colleagues in higher social demographic locations may not face the exact same symptoms of the Human Condition within their classrooms but they will … give it time.  For those who face student profiles highlighted by trauma, abuse, poverty, or other social maladies, you are in a unique position; on the cusp of something everyone will be experiencing soon.  So we can see this as an opportunity: It’s like going to the latest Star Wars movie on a Preview Night.
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”  [Charles Swindoll]
Secondly, THIS TRANSFORMATION IS SOMETHING WE CANNOT RUN FROM.  In fact, it’s happening in all areas of life due to extraordinary technological advancements including political and economic shifts unfolding all around.  If you really believe our current political process is an example of the end of the world; I believe you will be surprised over time: For I believe it’s just a part of the transformation taking place.
In the business world, the most successful changes and transformation are often referred as “Disruptors” such as Costco, Amazon, Starbucks, and Amazon … all well known disruptors and all are a part of the Seattle / Puget Sound community; where this article was written.
In our business, we call our reform efforts tried and true “BEST PRACTICES”.  However, we are not really changing, nor do we look that different than we did twenty – thirty years ago.  Or even fifty,
As society is shifting at the speed of sound,  we are also facing the disruptor phenomenon; and it’s in the form of our students.  Many of our students ARE the disruptors.  And sometime soon, like business, we will need to listen to the disruptors.  So I encourage you to go to that cutting edge place, the cusp of true change, and listen to what our students are really telling us.  And if we listen deeply, most often they are telling us the following:
RELATIONSHIP is everything; so the Social Emotional Learning initiative is something we will need to look at beyond the first few days of school or beyond the first few minutes of every lesson.  The need to belong is fundamentally our society’s greatest learning platform.  Just look at Facebook.  Or any other form of social media: Where there are no issues associated with focus, attention, engagement, or participation.
RELEVANCE is so valuable; building lessons, learning, and the whole notion of school based upon meaning, interests, and intrinsic expression.  There are not enough stickers, charts, or jolly ranchers in the world to really get students to do something they really don’t see meaning in. Think of it this way; picture in your own mind the one class you remember from Middle School.  Likely, there was something within the realm of interest or meaning which created the hook.  Doing something you love is so much easier than the opposite.  So it’s important to consider “what do our students love?” and see where this leads; and how can this be applied to what we are doing in our classrooms.
And in closing, as life transforms, and change is at the core of this process, RESILIENCE is one of the key life skills we all would benefit from for change is never easy; it seems to catch up with us when we are least expecting it. And since our students are watching us closely [relationship], and are seeking out authentic meaning in their own lives [relevance], it would be a valuable investment to establish our own resilience practices as we move forward.  As stated, life happens, and how we handle it, is really the task at hand. So I go back to the earlier point, take care of yourself.  Enjoy your time away from the classroom.  Do something you truly love.  Or spend quality time with those who are dear to your heart. Then, on your return, listen to your students a bit more:  Then see where RELATIONSHIP and RELEVANCE present opportunities within your lessons and your classrooms.  And see what unfolds.
Best Regards,
Larry

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