If you hear anything today, hear this: you’re doing the best you can.
There’s no playbook for this. There’s no playbook for mass social distancing and staying inside and working from home and keeping kids engaged when there is no school. There’s a swirling of emotions changing by the day and sometimes changing by the hour.
There’s now no school for millions of students across our country, and I’ve seen:
There’s plenty of judgment to go around. Judging some for staying in and others for going out. Judging for decisions being made too fast and decisions being made too slow.
It’s here where Brene Brown’s wisdom can help you and me: believe everyone is truly doing the best they can.
What does doing your best look like?
It means giving each other grace.
It means everyone is unsettled, from those who are strict quarantine folks who haven’t gone out at all to those who think this could be a bit of an overreaction.
Give one another grace. The strict quarantine person does whatever it takes to flatten the curve person is likely immune compromised herself or he has a child or aging parents who this thing could very likely kill if they were to get it. And also the person who’s sharing “a keep calm and carry on” type mindset might own her own business that provides for her and her family and if they shut the doors or there’s mandate where people can’t come and do business, then their lives are over. They may not be dead, but it feels like it because everything they’ve worked, saved and planned for is now gone and there’s loss, grief and despair.
Believe everyone is doing the best they can. From those enjoying this extended sabbath as an ethereal reminder to slow down, to enjoy and connect with one another over UNO, books or a movie. To those mourning as they have a high school senior who may not get to go to prom, walk in graduation, or have an open house celebration. From those who have postponed weddings and adjusted funeral plans or to those who face uncertainty with seemingly trivial things like sports teams or music productions that are not just ways to stay busy but are important character shaping activities and their children enjoy and look forward to.
Today, if only for today, believe everyone is doing the best they can. Read their post, hear their comments, see their decisions through the lens of doing the best they can. And you do the best you can.
How can you stop worrying and start living?
That’s the title of a book written by Dale Carnegie I’ve been reading with some guys I meet each week. We started it a couple of months ago during simpler. What’s eye-opening about the book is it was first published in 1944 before World War 2 had been decided. Many of the book's stories- ones of hope, of beating down fear and overcoming worry- come from people who lived through the Great Depression.
There’s a meme floating around the socials right now that says your grandparents were called to fight a war; you’re called to watch Netflix (or something like that!). I don’t mean to make light of our very present reality, but the meme combined with Carnegie’s book gives perspective.
Here's 3 secrets to survive this time and how you can stop worrying and start living:
Secret #1: Generosity
Generosity is an incredible trait in uncertain times. You either see the world through a scarcity mindset or through an abundance mindset. You’ve witnessed the scarcity mindset as people flock to stores and fight over toilet paper. They believe in a world where resources are fixed. With this perspective, it makes to get as much as you can while you can to survive. A scarcity mindset is one of fear, anxiety, and paranoia.
A person with an abundance mindset has the opposite perspective.
Secret #2: Growth
The second things to get you through this season is growth. Of course you’ll want to take advantage of unplanned time to connect with family and friends. Play games with your kids. Binge a series on Netflix. Watch Frozen 2 multiple times like I did this past weekend. Talk with your spouse. Call your folks (I’m calling mom!) and grandparents. These activities aren’t cancelled. Growth also isn’t cancelled. Use this time to better prepare for whatever’s next:
Secret 3: Gratitude
The final secret to thrive during this season is gratitude. There’s seemingly lots to be ungrateful for, but the challenge is to be grateful. Appreciate your family. Be grateful for your health. Be thankful for work. Be grateful for the money you do have.
The food you do have.
The shelter you have.
The clothing you have.
The abilities you have.
Find one thing to be grateful for each day and write it down. Even if you’re recovering from a scarcity mindset, noticing what you’re grateful for slowly shifts that mindset to an abundant one.
Want to stop worrying and start living? Generosity, growth, and gratitude.
What would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.
It's certainly was a challenging and interesting week.
And if you're like me, you're getting two types of emails:
But there's a 3rd kind of email: How can we help?
How can we help schools (teachers, students, staff) when for many there is no school?
If you have ideas, thoughts or needs that would help you, your school, your students, your community, please share 'em by replying to this email. I'll collect and pass 'em along to our community and together we'll support, encourage and serve you and our schools during this time.
And if you'd like to share your story as a teacher, educator, or administrator, click here. Every school needs a partner; sharing your story is one way we can partner with you.
We're so grateful for all you do.
Thursdays are for teachers and today we feature Tyler Becker who teaches 3rd grade at Cleveland Elementary in Sioux Falls, SD.
Why did you get into teaching?
I have a few reasons for getting into the teaching profession. My first reason was my family. The job I was originally at called for late night hours that were great while in college, but not when you are growing as a family. Having a family and being away from home during the evenings helped motivate me to go back to school to get my ELED degree. Another reason I chose teaching was to make a different impact in the lives of children. My previous employment was working with children from abusive and neglected homes. Teaching allows me to be on front line of that struggle and help these kids and families in ways that can prevent the cycle of poverty from continuing. That's why I am teacher.
How has your year been going?
Great. My crew is working hard each day. At this point in the year, we are craving warmer weather and starting to see those state tests approaching on the horizon. Teachers are stressing with realizing how much more learning they want their students to know to be prepared for the tests. Kids are starting to get antsy so it makes for a great combination?!
How can a church/business/group support you/your classroom/your school?
Hillcrest has been a great partnership for Cleveland. The impact that the church has in the building is noticed. The help with supplies, the meals, the actual presence of adults willing to sit and read/listen to our Cleveland Cubs is making a positive impact on our school. Thanks for all you guys do for your community school!
A few months ago, our church’s new youth pastor played charades with the high school students. One of the clues was to act like me. I’ve had several stints with our student ministry so they’ve gotten to know my idiosycrancies.
One gal held up a cell phone, put a coffee cup in her and said “hey, yeah Tarina (my wife), I’m at Qdoba”. Hilarious.
Some high school freshmen barked out my go to sayings from when I coached them in basketball. One even ripped up some white paper and put it in his hair so his hair color matched mine. Brilliant.
But it got me thinking- what are those rules I live by? What are those sayings, axioms, and clichés that guide your life? Here's four of mine.
You have to put the time in
Whatever you want to get better at, you need to put the time in. Athletics. Music. Academics. Work. Relationships. Writing. Teaching. There are no short cuts to success. There’s no life hack to the mastery you achieve by putting in the time. We swoon over the seemingly overnight success story, but the truth is we don’t see all that went into the successes. We don’t see the endless practicing of piano scales. We don’t see the thousand jump shots in an empty gym. We don’t see the words that don’t make it into the book. We don’t see the things cut from the lesson plan. We only see the result and mistakenly believe the success was somehow magical or lucky. Every successful person put the time in.
Control what you can control
Applying this one principle can save you so much anxiety and worry. The cornovirus dominates the news and our psyches. You can’t control it. You can wash your hands. You can’t control the stock market. You can control how you manage your money. I can’t control if you read this blog. I can control my effort at writing a blog I think you’ll get something out of.
Small and sucky beats staying sucky
I borrowed the wording for this rule from Marie Forleo’s Everything is Figureoutable book. If you struggle with procrastination or perfectionism (two sides of the same coin), then this rule is for you. Many times the content I send you isn’t as polished as some other online content. The 31 ways in 31 days videos from last August lack professionalism. Some of the videos I’ve posted recently have an “I kiss better than I cook” sign in the background from our kitchen. Some links in the emails don’t work.
I have to improve on those mistakes, but I’d rather be small and sucky than stay small. I’d rather send the email, post the video or share the content with all its flaws and have it be sucky rather than hide and never share it because of procrastination or perfectionism.
We launch a brand new challenge on April 1 (no April fools here). We’ve had an idea to show a school all it needs find a church partner in a week. To take my successes and failures and to learn in a week what has taken me years to figure out when it comes to partnering with a school. But I’ve never done this before and that “never done it before” fear makes me pause. The perfectionism voice says “the content won’t be good enough” and “who do you think you are to do this”. The procrastination voice doubles down on perfectionism’s doubts and adds one more: you’re not ready. Good thing it’s last on my list.
You’re never ready for the next step
I’ve worked almost 20 years for a church and I have some experience in counseling people. More accurately, I listen to what they’re going through and try understand together what God might be saying. It’s a tall task and one we’ve made more difficult when we believe God’s will is an intricate plan we must figure out and if we misstep, we’ve been bad. I believe God’s will looks more like the Choose Your Own Adventure books from my childhood. There’s freedom in how you live your life. Of course there are decisions you make that can make life harder, but many decisions we struggle with (What college should I go to? Should I even go to college? What job should I take? Should I switch careers? Should I marry this person? Should we have kids?) don’t have a right answer. There’s your answer. Many times, you’re not ready for the answer, and if you wait til you’re ready, you’ll never do it.
If you wait until you’re ready to get married, to have kids, to write the book, to adopt the child, to change careers, to start the business or to run the marathon, you won’t do it because you’ll never be ready. The fact you’re thinking you’re not ready can be proof you’re more ready then you realize. We may not launch the perfect challenge on April 1, but if I wail until I am ready, I’ll never do it.
So, how about you? Which of my rules struck a cord? Do you disagree with any of my rules? What’s one of your rules to live by? Share with us in the comments.
Thursdays are for teachers and today we feature Nicole Gardner who teaches 3rd grade at Harvey Dunn Elementary in Sioux Falls, SD.
Q: Why did you get into teaching?
I have loved children for as long as I can remember. I began babysitting in the sixth grade, worked in the church nursery, and was a life guard and swim team coach. When I was a senior in high school, I used my study hall to volunteer in the elementary resource room. I worked with the same student for a semester. I loved helping him. Every day, this was the best part of my day. I think this experience solidified my decision to make teaching my career.
Q: How has your year been going?
My year has been great. I have the best job in the world. I get to see 24 kids whom I love, and who make me feel loved, too. It is amazing watching them learn and grow! I love my class, my school, other students in our building, and I work with the most incredible staff. They are my friends and my second family, and each of them cares about all of the students in our school. My students come to school with different needs, but when they come to school, they know they are loved, safe, and that they are important.
Q: How can a church/business/group support you/your classroom/your school? *
There are many ways people can support our classrooms and schools. We need mentors for our many of our students. The commitment isn't huge. It is approximately 45 minutes per week. Mentors come to school and have lunch with the same student each week. After they eat, they visit, play games, read, or finish work. Mentors are there to show our students that someone else thinks they are important and they care.
We always need volunteers to work one-on-one or with small groups of students. It isn't intimidating. We would never ask anyone to do anything they were not comfortable doing. We have many needs to meet, and the more people we have to help meet those needs, the better chance our students are given. We have many students who do not have their basic needs met. Some of our students have negative lunch accounts. People or businesses can help pay off meal balances so students are able to eat hot lunch instead of the cold lunch that they are given that isn't filling, and embarrasses many kids. We could also use donations of snacks. Many students eat snack a few times per day and also ask for one before they go home in case there isn't food for dinner. In order to keep good teachers and to support our students, we need people to get to the polls and vote for legislatures who prioritize education for the students in our state. Your vote matters.
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
In some instances, community members don't fully understand the time and dedication teachers give to their students and their profession. Effective teachers spend multiple hours working outside of school hours. If we had a time clock, most teachers would have at least 60 hours per week. Sadly, most teachers also put their families behind their students. Our work and our students get more attention and patience than our own children and families. It isn't because we mean to, it is just the dedication we have to this all encompassing job. Teaching is not a nine month job. Many teachers work all summer to supplement their income. Also teachers are taking classes, planning lessons, developing new units, working on committees, or writing grants to stay current and become better at what they do.
Teaching is not the same as it was even five years ago. The expectations and standards students are supposed to achieve are greater, and the needs of students go far beyond academic. We have students who come from all kinds of abuse and trauma. Some students suffer from mental illness, poverty, and neglect. We have students in foster care, students who have lost a parent or sibling, and students who have incarcerated parents. Our kids have teachers who listen, find help, meet their basic needs, let them know they matter, love them, feed them, and sometimes clothe them. Teachers show their students that they are safe, they have someone whom they can trust and who believes in them. We believe all of our students have gifts and each one can succeed.