expect less

Chances are, I would make an awful self-help guru. Tony Robbins and his contemporaries will likely hold a public shunning upon reading my new mantra for this upcoming school year.

My mantra is:

 

        ~ expect less ~

 

Brutal

Where’s the set-the-bar-high pep talk?

Where’s the you-can-do-anything-you-set-your-mind-to encouragement to help others over the 8 months of hump-days?

Where’s the return-on-investment for my employer?

What kind of educator are you?

Step to the back of the queue, Negative Ned’s and Nellie’s!   I have set my mind to ‘expecting less’ and it is my intention to experience more peace this year by doing just that.

Read on, MacDuff!  Just getting to the good part.

 

autumngarden2

 

Imagine it

What would it look like if I went through my work day of supporting students, collaborating with colleagues, problem-solving with parents and facilitating meditation classes all while ‘expecting less’?

 

I imagine it would look something like this…

 

Less wishful thinking that others can read my mind’s manifesto on how things ‘should’ be done.

More clear, direct requests for what I want.

 

Less personalizing when situations still don’t go my way even with clear, direct requests.

More acceptance of all outcomes whether or not they fall within my way of doing things.

 

Less soul-sucking over-efforting to drive up my number-of-people-pleased stats.

More doing the task in front of me with integrity and authentic presence regardless of who is watching.

 

Less compulsion to efficient task completion as if someone is literally waiting at my door for results.

More doing the task in front of me with integrity and authentic presence regardless of who is waiting.

 

Less obsession with results. And even less obsession with the mythical, perfect results.

More focus on making eye contact, taking a breath before speaking and listening, listening, listening. (Then way more self-care for balance!)

 

Less complaining.

More expecting less!

 

Less frantic, externally-driven movement.

More internally-driven, deep-breathed pacing.

 

Less reaction.

More response.

 

Less performing.

More presence.

 

autumngarden1
By the way, I will also be expecting less from you. Great news for you.

Bring on the busyness of a new year.  My mantra and I are ready for you!

 

 

teacher, student, teacher

 

A four-leaf clover.  In my front yard.20150701_163357

On this day.  A day of no work.  A day of rest. The start of a sabbatical, of sorts.

A day of sitting longer at the table after lunch and talking about everything and nothing.

Laughing.

Listening to the midday downpour through the screen door.

A day made for a nap.

A day of walking.

A day of yoga. And red wine. But not at the same time!

I have no need for luck, though.

Gratitude about how much I have is as close as my next breath.

Funny thing about this ‘find’ is that even on a blissful day such as this, I didn’t even notice the clover and even resisted being ‘dragged’ outside (I may be exaggerating but it’s my post and my prerogative) to be shown it.

So, on day #1 of Danette’s Summer of Being a Student Again, I’ve already learned that everything and everyone can be a teacher for me.

It may be a yoga teacher, a four-leaf clover, rest from work or my own resistance to small miracles.

Here’s to the teacher in all of us.

Happy summer!

Be open.  Be ready.  Be a student.

why i love my job

 

Despite the many roles I play in life, I spend most of my days at a school.   With that comes moments of “are you sure you’re cut out for this line of work” only to be balanced  with “I am one of the fortunate ones to love the work I do“.  This often surprises me because I didn’t much like adolescence the first time so never would have guessed that I’d be working with this sub-species of humans.

Adolescence is a time of remarkable growth and change. As you may know, neuro-scientists, with the help of the MRI, have discovered that the teenage brain is still actively growing in complexity and efficiency. The most profound changes occur in the area that monitors judgement, decision-making, organization, impulse-control and, wait for it, emotion.  As if I needed to tell you that!

This is a terribly confusing but also incredible time for students, parents and teachers. The potential for unparalleled learning and deep connection is right there in that amazing mess called the adolescent mind.

But how do you reach students who, by their very wiring, struggle with self-regulation, question the value of learning how to learn, can’t quite seem to connect well with others or easily loses their way in the fog of anxious uncertainty?

The answer is with resilient support.

Resilience is the art of the elegant rebound. It means getting up at least one more time than you have fallen down. And this is precisely what the administration, faculty and staff do here at my school every day here. We reach out, share, coach, advise, explain, instruct, listen, inform, engage, encourage and, occasionally, we badger. But what we do not do, is give up.  Even against the odds.

No child is unreachable. No student is unteachable.

New neural connections in the teenage brain are being made all the time so we stay the course.  We witness the acts of bravado and fragility but trust that we will prevail if we compassionately continue to communicate the power:

• of developing the practical skills of ‘learning how to learn’ and organization

• of thinking deeply and reflectively about issues facing our community and world

• of cultivating self-awareness & self-care as a crucial springboard for compassionate relating

• of growing in radical self-responsibility

 

Resilience begins with these mighty basics. This level of resilient support is modeled and offered by our  whole community through:

 

the daily greeting of students at the front door by our principal each morning
teachers who know their students by name and most know siblings’ names, out-of-school extra-curricular activities and potentially even who the student is dating!
teachers who set high academic expectations but who also negotiate assignment extensions from a place of grace and understanding
• staff who tirelessly keep the wheels of this place moving day after day, creating a space conducive to community, learning and engaging with each other
guidance counsellors who sit with, walk alongside and dig deeper with students on key personal, academic and post-secondary issues
• a Resource Centre with a vision for grounding students in the life-long strategies of learning, helping students grow in academic self-confidence and provide academic accommodations to help all learners start the race of learning at the starting line

 

We don’t give up and we don’t go away.

Resilient support for students with brains and emotions in flux.  That is what we do here. All of us together.  And because we do this even when we face personal or corporate setbacks, this is why I love my job.

 

 

 

 

prepared for what?

 

In my role as a guide for students to help them navigate their academic, social and post-secondary potentialities, I am deeply saddened by the news of yet another first-year university student who sought a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

The brief version of this recent news story reported that the deceased young man’s father believed his son to be fully equipped and prepared for the rigors of university.  As parents and educators, that is our fiercest hope for all our children who pack up their books, bags and emotional baggage for the sake of life experience and a higher education.

But how are we preparing them?  With a strong academic education in high school?  For what are we preparing them?  To keep deadlines, write essays all while trying to get enough sleep?  And how are the post-secondary institutions looking out for these students who are entering the ‘real world’ even younger than ever before?

In my experience, the level of the mighty progressive push to move quickly ahead to the next step of life is on a steady increase and, along with it, the increase of debilitating anxiety among high-achieving students or the perfectly-acceptable-average-achieving students with high-achieving parents.  But no matter where the push comes from, the instinctive spirit of the student always pushes back.

Students may self-medicate with distraction or hyper-over-achievement, put themselves to sleep to their feelings of overwhelm with addictive behaviours, self-sabotage to prove their perceived unworthiness or lack of preparedness  or they may simply choose to shut down.

A key condition for being “ready” to take any step forward is our capacity to be present in this moment.  Grounded in our breathing.  Noticing and accepting the way things are.

 
sadness

We can never be fully prepared

and equipped for every contingency.

But, if we can give our children any gifts

to support their natural evolution without

strangling their spirits, it could be the clear

and consistent modelling of the following:

 

Self-Awareness       Know who you are.  Seek clarity.

Self-Acceptance      Love who you are.  Show compassion.

Self-Advocacy         Ask for what you need.  Say “please help”.

 

Live these out and experience them as gifts to yourself, for your spirit.  Then as gifts to your children.  And ultimately, as gifts to the world.