The secret of life? To endure.
If my memory is even somewhat accurate this was the ending of one of my all time favorite books, Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford. Her quote parallels the sage advice I often get from my reverend when nearing the end of a project. “Finish well”.
Here I am nearing the end of what is not so much a project but a 10 week sojourn back at work, cheering myself on with “finish well”.
To recap, I retired from a 36 year career in education on September 1, 2015. Since then I’ve filled in as “Acting Principal” in March and am presently starting week 6 of 10 as an elementary counsellor in my former school district.
Work is different this time. There is the obvious of being more relaxed because, well…retirement. But this time round I’m being mindful to observe, to listen, to be present. To pause. Truth be told, there has been a wee tendency towards judgment, but as the enlightened human I’ve become, judgement has been set aside to free up space for growth – particularly mine. Here’s what I’m noticing:
- the adults in many of my buildings are tired
- the students are not tired
- excitement for summer break is building
- dread for summer break is building
- staff still have way too much to do in the 3 1/2 weeks that are left
- some schools laugh more than others
- laughter is necessary
- listening is often the best kind of self-regulation (for the listener and the listenee)
- there is no ‘one size fits all’
- consistency and routines are difficult to maintain in June
- consistency and routine are essential in order to finish well
Along side of spending another spring at school, I am wrapping up the Foundations course on Self-Regulation through The Mehrit Centre that began in October 2015. (thank you to Dr. Shanker, Dr. Hopkins & the squirrely members of Cohort #1) As I put the finishing touches on my final Self-Reg project, I find I’m looking at schools through a clearer lens. A lens that starts with soft eyes and rather than narrowing it is in fact expanding. There is much to see.
My personal inquiry question has become:
How will the intentional practice of self-regulation change the trajectory of a school and its community?
My thoughts on why schools must embrace self-reg:
- unity (think “The Village” thanks Shortreed)
- common language – think unity
- self-regulation will move schools towards creating a more equal playing field
- for teachers to co-regulate they must listen. When students are listened to they feel valued. When people are valued by others they often begin to value themselves more. These are the beginning steps of changing a negative bias to a positive bias.
- when staff listen to students they get to ‘know’ their students. When staff ‘know’ their students they can differentiate both academic and emotional learning in a more meaningful way.
I’ve written before about Self-Reg as the missing piece in providing the grounding for the best kind of lifelong learning. Teaching students, staff, parents, and dare I dream… community, how to move from survival brain to learning brain is foundational to a life of not just learning, but learning with joy.
The goal, the really BIG goal: to become more fully human.
To my friends and colleagues who are nearing the end of another school year or perhaps the end of a lengthy, worthwhile career: thank you for all you do. Stay calm and remember that there really is time left for all that needs to be done. Breath, pause, laugh, listen, pace yourselves, and above all finish well.
One last thing. It doesn’t matter who starts self-reg, (admin, teachers, parents, district) what matters is that you start!
As always, I write with the knowing that better IS possible,