For me, sometimes the best way to feel better is counterintuitive. To give that which I'm lacking. If I'm not feeling wholehearted in my work and not feeling the love, I give love. If I'm not feeling like I belong, I create belonging for others. For example, ensuring equity of voice in meetings, paying attention to how I respond to the contributions of others, and sitting in circles are all small moves for belonging that I talk about in the draft of my book. And finally, vulnerability. Someone has to go first. Sometimes, that someone is you. Whether it be rest or more wholeheartedness in your work, I hope you find it.
As George Couros has said, "Change is an opportunity to do something amazing." I'm pretty sure he wasn't talking about the dentist, but it turns out that a trip to the dentist was not only good for my teeth, it was good for my professional practice in the education space too. Inspiration is all around us. What we look for, we find.
ome of us are in the middle of really hard things right now. Big hugs to you. I hope you let yourself feel what you need to feel. For those searching for peace, you might find it if you slow down to see the magic in all of the little moments that are working in your favor. If you take a deep breath and simply notice, there is a good amount of good. When you find the good, the good gets better. And so do you.
Whatever it is for you, whatever makes you feel grateful to be alive, slow down so you can stay closer to it this season. The things I'm most thankful for cannot be found in my phone or on the internet. Slow down and savor that first sip of your coffee. Wrap your hands around a warm mug and enjoy the glow of your Christmas tree or fire. Hug a little longer. Turn your music up. Whatever little moves you can make, whatever little time you can take, do it. Time isn't slowing down, but we can.
But the reality is, the only we can truly control at the end of the day is ourselves. The real work is the work we do on ourselves. Everything else is secondary. How we feel in the work impact the works, so when we can find ways to feel better in the work, the work gets better.
I'm not totally sure what we are working toward sometimes. There are no busy badges or gold stars for the most hours worked. It's one thing if we are loving what we are doing and losing ourselves in it in the best possible way. But not everything in our lives and our work is worth that kind of effort.
Pay attention to your thoughts in situations and with people that are triggering for you. Your thoughts lead to your feelings which leads to your response. Give yourself a little grace when you don't respond in ways that make you feel proud and remember that this triangle is a practical strategy for understanding how you're feeling and how you want to respond in the future.
Recently, a teacher sent me a very kind text message. It didn't feel like I deserved her words of affirmation, but I cherished them and held them dear. It felt nice to have someone see something good in me, and it made me want to live up to those words the next day and every day. I guess all I'm saying is that our winters are long. The middle part of the school year can feel long and messy. But the work feels better when we feel better and a great way to feel better is to notice and acknowledge what's great around us: the people. The people make our schools special. Let's hype them up.
There is a national shortage of educators. Now more than ever, we need to represent this profession in ways that are hope-giving. If we truly care about making our schools better places to learn, work, and grow, we must remember that every conversation, every post on social media, every moment is an opportunity to show people how amazing these jobs can be. These jobs are hard, yes, but they are deeply important. These jobs can be exhausting, yes, but they can also be really, really fun when we choose for them to be.
No gesture is too small. All gestures matter. If we all took the time to make those small gestures, our classrooms would change. Our schools would change. Our districts would change. Our communities would change. This is how we change the world. Through small caring on a daily basis. If we all do our part, the world will change.