From surviving to thriving: educational leadership
I’m in the fortunate position of being surrounded by it every day.
At home, I have a puppy, Georgia, who reminds me of the pure joy that arises from curiosity. Sometimes it’s great – watching her chase blowing leaves just for the heck of it. Sometimes it’s not – delightfully bringing us the remnants of a fish she’s discovered on the beach.
At MAC, I am surrounded by private school students who are relentlessly inquiring, challenging and questioning. That’s always great and it is a cornerstone of our education programs.
The past several months of this pandemic have heightened my curiosity as well. From an initial point of simple determination to make it through another day of tumultuous change it was my experience that simple survival wasn’t enough. It also wasn’t what I was witnessing from our community. I began to see how it was possible to thrive in the most unlikely of circumstances.
The first week of this month our students and staff celebrated Wellness Week with focused academic activities, guest speakers and workshops. Each day our school community focused on different aspects of wellness, including mental health, physical health, nutritional health and ending with World Mental Health Day.
It was a great week and we all learned a lot including some methods to adopt while living and thriving in the spin-cycle that the past several months have been. Perhaps these will help you find some equilibrium in the day-to-day busyness we’re experiencing.
1. Notice you’re going in circles.
It starts with simply noticing that you’re spinning. What does spinning feel like? What thoughts and feelings can you notice? Shift your attention to physical sensations. Let yourself be guided by your body. How does that constant spinning feel in your body. Listen to your body. Acknowledge how you feel without judging. Be OK with it.
It’s a process, and it’s important to know that you’re shifting to a different space.
2. Get really curious.
When we bring a curious mind to these moments, we open to how things are and curiosity begins to shine a light towards openness, receptivity and compassion. Ask yourself, have I been trying to fix a situation for weeks, months or even years and nothing seems to have changed? Do I have expectations of others that may be unrealistic and could they have influenced my thoughts, feelings and behaviour?
Bring a deep curiosity without any expectation of fixing anything.
3. Re-direct your attention to those who need it.
Never forget there are people out there who really need you. Re-direct your attention and focus your energies there. Maybe they’re complete strangers. Maybe it’s your own children or a friend. Everybody’s fighting a battle we know nothing about. Sometimes a simple smile to a stranger can change everything. Your love and attention is precious and unique.
Give your time and energy to those who most need it.
You see, being curious creates opportunities. We might not know what’s around the next corner but if we’re determined to find out we discover new paths, we open new doors and we re-imagine possibilities. That, in so many ways, is the art of teaching – awakening the curiosity of young people and teaching them the art and science of discovery while learning how to thrive rather than simply survive.