3 Ways to Support Your School Community During Uncertain Times

According to my father, there is no coincidence that his blood type is “Be Positive” (B+).  He is probably the most positive person I have ever known. He can find a silver lining in almost any situation.  

True story: I received a phone call one afternoon.  My exuberant father was on the other line. 

I asked him how he was and he replied with the usual, “Phenomenal.” He then began by saying he had some great news to share. “You know how your brother’s car was stolen out of his driveway? Well, they found it!” My dad remarked in a very excited tone. 

“That is good news,” I replied back. “Is the car okay?” I asked. 

“NO!” Dad quickly clapped back, his voice still very upbeat. “They took the tires, broke all of the windows and I think at one point they set fire to it.”   

I was silent for a few seconds, confused, waiting, clearly I missed something important.  He paused, building suspense.  

He broke the silence by saying, “…but you know what….?”  

Another agonizing pause.  “What Dad?” I asked, trying not to convey my lack of enthusiasm.    

My father began again, “…your brother’s graduation tassel was still around the rearview mirror….isn’t….that…amazing!?!?” 

A smile came across my face although he couldn’t see it. Typical Dad.  “Yes, Dad” I replied back. “That is excellent news.”  

There are many potential silver linings to our current situation, more time with loved ones, a forced slow down to our hectic lives.  But in many cases what the world is currently dealing with is causing anxiety, fear, and in many cases hardship. It is okay to not be okay right now. Educators are dealing with many of these emotions along with the fear of the unknown.  Many of us do not know how the school year will play out or what is happening with our students and families.  What can we do as an educational community to support each other during this difficult time? 

If we cannot find a silver lining in a given situation, we can make one! We need to be the silver linings for each other right now.  Let’s be the irreplaceable “graduation tassel” hanging in the burnt-out, smashed up Mazda hatchback, found in an abandoned field. How can we be the silver lining for others during this time? We need to offer support, stay connected and provide encouragement.

Support

Many educators are craving logistics, answers to questions and structure.  In many cases, those details are not available, but support doesn’t always have to come in the form of concrete answers right now.  Support can also come in honoring the questions that teachers do have and communicating that there are no concrete steps right now.   We are all in this together and teachers will feel supported knowing the school community is still here to support them too. How can you as a leader help others feel supported?  

Connection

Everyone is craving connection right now.  Especially during this period of isolation.  Many school communities are posting messages from teachers, read-a-louds and videos from staff members and heartfelt notes to the school community. One school I serve even had a virtual get together just with staff members to check in and say hello. Connect with others. How can you as a leader facilitate a continued connection with school staff?   

Encouragement

This too shall pass.  School will be back in session and we will look back at this time.  Let us be a silver lining for others, by sending encouragement when people need it the most.  Many schools are sending emails with quotes and jokes to keep everyone going. Call your educator friends, mail a letter, connect online, share your struggles and be compassionate.  What can we all do to encourage others?

After the unfortunate event with my brother’s car, he did drive again.  He bought a new car and he was back on the road. He missed his old car and it was unfortunate that the car was stolen and trashed, but after a while the event was a memory.  A memory that taught me that there are “graduation tassel” moments in most situations. 

CLICK HERE for a list of activities you could consider to be a silver lining for your school community. 

Sarah Hayden
Instructional Coach, TEEN TRUTH

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