I was privileged to be asked to participate in a podcast series with SkyGems Academy involving educational leaders from around the world reflecting on their experiences and the learning in their contexts during the COVID 19 pandemic. So interesting to hear from diverse school leaders, the different, and similar, challenges faced and the ways in which communities pulled together to navigate through the crisis.
I recently shared a post with my school community about taking time each day/each week to find joy in the small moments that are scattered throughout our lives.
Despite the disruption, confusion and upset all around us during this COVID-19 Pandemic, there is joy to be found in the small moments. These nuggets of joy can act as reminders, inspire us, and fulfil us, especially when our days are all the more stressful, demanding and filled with uncertainty. As we continue to be faced with huge challenges as a result of the world wide pandemic, I keep returning to three different common themes that I believe we have to keep reminding ourselves:
- This is a crisis – even as we begin to ‘return to normality’ people have changed, our perspectives have been changed, our daily lives have changed, families are changed; our world remains uncertain on a global scale and many lives have been lost. This all equates to an ongoing crisis with impacts that will long be felt beyond when it seems on the surface all is ‘normal’ again.
- Connection and community are critical to all of our wellbeing. We need to be open to, and embrace, new and different ways to maintain and grow connections and community. For our students especially, our focus needs to be on supporting their wellbeing, hearing their worries, and moving at their pace. We need to listen to them more than ever. We all know that learning requires a safe and secure environment for us to be able to engage and embrace in learning. For many students security and stability are scarce as we move through uncertain times and so providing opportunities to come together and find joy in the small moments.
- Kindness to ourselves and one another. This for me, is the most critical point – only through kindness and empathy can we find the best pathway forward, one that is sustainable, inclusive and responsive. Showing appreciation, gratitude and finding the joy in the small moments can help us be kinder to ourselves and each other. This can only be a good thing for all of us as individuals and as a community.
As we are in the midst of all of this transition and change, uncovering joy is truly priceless for us all. Finding ways to connect and share with each other, celebrate kindness and be together as a community are all things that will sustain us. It has been noticeable throughout this period how nature is being appreciated more than ever and that much more noticing is happening around us, more time to think and more time to appreciate. Perhaps, it will also prompt us to think, that those small moments are really not so small after all. They are what matters most.
“….Find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
Change is something which affects us all on both a small and large scale, sometimes we choose to change a routine or habit or sometimes we are faced with change in a much more dramatic or life-changing way. I recently was discussing ‘change’ with friends and colleagues and it got me wondering, is it the actual change itself that presents the challenge or is it more the context or way in which we view the change that impacts us? Furthermore, what makes children so much more adaptable to change?
Working in an International School environment, change, on a larger scale is, in many ways part of daily life. Colleagues, students and families come and go, and change in opinions can be widespread (and sometimes surprising) with such a mixture of cultures and backgrounds.
When I really started to think about ‘change’, one word came to mind, and that was acceptance.
The beginning of the school year always brings about a great deal of change. Whether it be change of teachers, students, books and materials, or even greater change such as moving countries or schools. I have noticed that quite often change is deemed as ‘bad’, ‘unsettling’, ‘challenging’ or ‘disruptive’. When you share the term ‘change’, even on a basic level ‘change your shoes’, ‘change your attitude’, ‘change your mind’ for all of these tasks effort is involved and acceptance that there is actually a need for change.
Yet when I started to think about well known sayings or quotations that related to change they seemed to have more positive connotations.
‘A change is as good as a rest’ and ‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world.’ Mahatma Gandhi
It seems to me that any sort of ‘change’ requires three ingredients, effort, acceptance and self-awareness.
First of all to initiate any change large or small, effort is required to make the change happen. Secondly there needs to be an acceptance of the change or need for change and finally we need to demonstrate some self awareness of how we respond and react to the change.
When I consider how children seem much more adaptable to change it seems that their willingness to accept change, itself changes their outlook to being one of simply just ‘being’, that ‘change is going to happen so what must I do to cope with the change?’. Much less time is spent by children over how to prevent change and much more time is spent accepting and reflecting on what they must do to cope with the change.
So, whether I consider making changes, large or small, or I am faced with changes I am going to try to do so with acceptance, effort and self-awareness! Who knows, maybe this small ‘change’ in attitude might just ‘change’ my outlook for the better.