First, once again, to all my educator friends, I know you are working hard right now to continue to deliver learning experiences to your students with commitment and integrity…keep it up and do not underestimate the importance of keeping kids and families engaged and connected. Maintaining community as much as possible is important and schools are the potential glue for such community.
So a few days ago was a perfect day to dig through some boxes and do a little sifting, sorting, tossing. Oh, the treasures stuffed into this box of letters and documents from the past. Photos galore of life in the 70s and 80s. High school memories with some incriminating photos to say the least. I mean a treasure trove of moments in time.
I found my report card from the end of Kindergarten – June 1962. Who would have thought that “Geoff has trouble settling down during story and conversation time” or that “Geoff works well when settled down and separated from Nelson and Peter”. Those two were a bad influence on me….for sure. My guess is that my name appeared on their report cards as well. Mrs Hughes also told my parents that Geoff “often has interesting experiences to tell us”. It was all code for being attentionally challenged, which I freely and humbly admit to. By June of 1965, after third grade things were looking a bit better “Geoff has good work habits.” That’s the good news. “However, he gets rather silly at times.” Who would have thought? Me, silly? As much as I enjoyed Mrs Pitt in Grade 3, maybe she didn’t appreciate my humor!
Speaking of attentionally challenged, The Coronoa Virus certainly has my undivided attention and, frankly it has for the past few weeks. We’re hanging at home, taking walks in the neighborhood, hikes in the woods, and today a bike ride. Still no cases of CV in Asheville identified. But, as we know, that doesn’t mean it’s not here. We went to the grocery store this morning at 8:00 am. We were there a week ago, last Friday as well. Likely it was me, but it had a different level of gravity today. Not alot of small talk, everyone wanted to get in, get their stuff, and get out. At least so it seemed. Rhona and I went to the store with a level of anxiousness that caught me off guard. As someone said on the news the other day, the CV is something we will have to learn to live with over the coming weeks and months. This will require not only taking vigilant precautions but also taking care of our own mental health, our own stress and anxiety. Paying attention to our individual self-talk. Several years ago (as in 11 years ago…ouch, I could have sworn it was just a few years ago..) Rhona and I were in a personal leadership class while working at JIS. The takeaways from that class, the 6 elements of Personal Leadership, are so relevant for this moment in time.
- Know, Understand, and “Align with your personal vision” – What is your personal vision of how you wish to live your day to day life?
- Engage and Embrace Ambiguity – certainly plenty of ambiguity in the air these days
- Cultivate Stillness regularly – calm the mind
- Attend to your Judgments, how are you passing on judgment regularly? What are you judging? How does passing judgment impact your thinking and attitude?
- Attend to the Physical Feelings within your body, your physical comfort/discomfort
- Attend to the Emotional Feelings that sweep across/through you
I’ve always liked these statements/recommendations or ways of living. I’ve come back to these statements often over the last decade in trying to be a better school Principal and leader of a faculty. Rhona has carried a little card with these highlighted in her wallet ever since. As I reconsider these elements, I think there is really good advice iwthin these words for right now.
These 6 elements come from an organization called www.plseminars.com
BTW…..The conversation around the closing of public schools around the country has truly highlighted the important role of public schools in fighting food scarcity. The conversations have been less about lost learning time but more about the challenge of supporting children with food. Public schools provide so many children in the US with their essential, and often singular, nutritious meal for the day, it is absolutely amazing. Schools have taken on the role of bridging the food security divide. This, in the richest country in the world….The crisis is highlighting this reality and it is incredibly disturbing.
Be vigilant, be safe, stay in touch!