Millennium Weekly: March 1-5

“I’d like to draw a moral here about teachers, and how young children take what their teachers have to offer with a kind of matter-of-fact greediness, without stopping to marvel at what is being transmitted, to wonder how the knowledge was acquired, or to examine the teacher’s own passions. And given the times we’re living through, I’d like to say something in appreciation of all the teachers who are managing to convey their passions remotely this year, and maybe to mourn the days that children are missing in what would have been exciting or even magical classrooms. But really, all I want to say is, when you get lucky with a teacher, you really get lucky.”

Dr. Perry Klass

Hi Team,

I write to you from Charleston, South Carolina, where my sister got married yesterday. It was a small, beautiful ceremony, followed by a nice gathering and some time on the beach enjoying the cold breeze and star-filled sky.  It was a good reminder of the importance of slowing down and being present.

Last week, Dr. Perry Klass published a piece in the New York Times titled The Influence of a Perfect Teacher.  He recalled the influence of his fourth-grade teacher, describing her ability to inspire, ritualize, and create learning experiences that have remained with him throughout his life. The piece stuck with me, pushing me, with appreciation, to think of those teachers that have been powerful in my own journey. I think of my 9th Grade social studies teacher who embraced me, allowed me to hang out in her classroom after school, and made me feel seen. I think of one of my Spanish literature college professors who I still call from time to time when I need good advice.  She has a way of always helping me uncover the true origins of a struggle or aspiration. I think of my 3rd grade teacher, who after my father’s death, created a safe space for me to be both comfortable and free in my own grief, even if just for a few hours each day. 

I share this reflection because I have found that in schools it is easy to focus on the immediate tasks that need to be completed. Maybe it’s those papers you just collected, the Google slides for tomorrow, or planning for the next term. However, it’s far more difficult to slow down and focus on those moments that students will remember well into adulthood. Those moments that cultivate connection and relationships, that make students feel seen and heard beyond the material or learning objectives we are sharing with them each day. At least, it is for me.   

I hope you will find some time to slow down and think of your most influential educators, even if for a brief moment.

Here is Millennium Weekly: March 1-5. I can’t believe it’s already March.

Have a great weekend,

Roberto

Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

― Michelle Obama, Becoming

Dear Team,

I’ve been so amazed by all of your work lately. From the start of a literary magazine, capstone presentations, and culmination prep – there is much to celebrate! I also appreciate everyone’s vulnerability during our JEDI time this week, and the support you lend to each other. These difficult conversations lead to collective growth. Overall, thank you for your dedication and care.

Today, my mind wanders to the topic of uncertainty. I believe one of the toughest parts of this year has been the constant cloud of uncertainty that continues to hang over us. Uncertainty of all kinds creates anxiety, fear, and distraction.  Maybe it’s our wonder about whether we will continue to teach in a hybrid format or whether we will feel safe hugging our friends. Regardless of the wonder, uncertainty is unsettling.

In an article by the Greater Good Science Center, Christine Carter provides seven suggestions for coping with uncertainty: 1) don’t resist, 2) invest in yourself, 3) find healthy comfort items, 4) don’t believe everything you think, 5) pay attention, 6) stop looking for someone to rescue you, and 7) find meaning in the chaos. When writing about #4, Carter shares that in uncertain times we tend to believe in thoughts that lean towards worst-case scenarios, and that we should caution ourselves and not believe everything we think. By believing in the stressful scenarios, we react more emotionally, grieve for things we actually haven’t lost, and react to events that are actually not happening.  

Indeed, life is slower these days in revealing its many intricacies.  Personally, I lean on Michelle Obama’s concept of “becoming” when I think of my own journey through uncertainty. I appreciate how she describes it as a “forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously towards a better self.” I’m trying to recognize the gifts in learning that dealing with so much uncertainty is providing me.

While I can’t predict the future, I thought it would be helpful to reiterate some of my big intentions for our school in August given the current pandemic. As contracts are due on Friday, I thought this information would be helpful. My big intentions are…

  • That school will be in-person.
  • That anti-racism work will continue to be prioritized in terms of our collective work and dedication of collaborative time.
  • That we will work to eliminate hybrid teaching. Meaning, we may restrict the choices of learning modality, work creatively to create a special path, if possible, for virtual students, limit the sections they are part of, or other creative arrangements. Hybrid is too stressful, overall.
  • We will return to the original grouping setups, even if we have to treat our entire school as one cohort. We need to honor the original intent of mix-grade groupings and other setups that have been a unique part of Millennium.
  • The majority of our meetings will be in-person, even if socially distanced.
  • We will limit the big projects we are working on together. We are doing too much at the same time, and we can do better by concentrating on fewer big projects.
  • Operationally, we will reorganize a bit to make sure that roles are sustainable and balanced.
  • We will continue to work towards proactive planning in all respects.

Of course, these are intentions because we are still living in a world filled with uncertainty. At best, we will return to previous models and ways of working and be able to loosen up on some of our COVID-19 restrictions, and at worst, our work will look similar to what it does now. I hope these intentions help.

In addition, I want two share points about next year:

  • We will be hiring a part-time Spanish teacher to support Stephanie P.’s excellent work.  The job is too big for one person, and we will be bringing in additional support.
  • We have hired Quitin Scotton for the PE role. Once we complete the contract, I will virtually introduce him to everyone. 

As always, I’m available to talk through any issues that are arising for you as you consider your commitment for next year or anything else that I can do to support you. 

Thank you,

Roberto

Image: NYtimes

Millennium Weekly: January 25-29 (Honesty)

Dear team,

Almost a decade ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Sir Desmond Tutu after attending a service at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town. At the time, I was struck by his kindness and approachability, but it’s his words that my mind has wandered to often this week.  I can’t remember if he was referencing John 8:32—“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” – or maybe a proverb, such as 16:14—“Righteous lips [are] the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right.” Perhaps it was none of these, given memory’s fleeting nature, but the message was clear: Honesty is powerful, and it has the potential to be restorative and reconciliatory.

In JEDI work, we often discuss the concept of “calling out” or “calling in.” Calling out is useful when you need to let someone know that their behavior was not acceptable and that such behavior will not be tolerated. It’s utilized when the behavior has to be acknowledged, named, and interrupted to avoid continued harm.  Calling out can be powerful because it also signals to the larger community what is acceptable and valued. Calling out is difficult and uncomfortable, but the courage involved in addressing the behavior–specifically and directly–breaks patterns and norms that may be ingrained, consciously or unconsciously, in relationships or communities. For example, you might say, “I wonder if you have considered the impact of your words, “ or “it sounds like you are making assumptions that we should unpack some more,” or “you may not realize this, but you are talking about my own story/identity,” or “I’m having a strong reaction to what you just said and I need to explain why,” or “I noticed you used incorrect pronouns when referring to….”  Each example is anchored in honesty, specificity, and interrupts behavior in order to stop cycles of oppression.

Similarly, calling in is useful when an individual wants to engage someone or a group in a deeper discussion that is anchored in seeking understanding through reflection.  Calling in involves listening as well as two-way exchanges. The point is to make meaning together and arrive, hopefully, at mutual understanding. It can also be about visualizing different perspectives or alternative paradigms. It’s anchored in reflection. While calling out involves specific naming and addressing with the purpose being interruption and realignment, calling in is an invitation to explore with each other. For example, you might ask, “can you share how you came to that decision?”, or “how might your own assumptions or prior experience be influencing your process/beliefs?”, or “what criteria are you using to measure/assess?”, or “what was your intention when you said that?” Like calling out, calling in is also routed in honesty and specificity, but it’s focused on an invitation to probe deeper.

For me, it also makes me think about the difference between criticism, complaining (which are often thought to be one and the same), and co-creation of change (my terminology). A complaint aims to address or focuses on a specific action or behavior. It’s a request in disguise. For example, my husband complained yesterday saying, “why do you spend so much time on your Ipad?” His loving intention and request was: “Roberto please let the Ipad go so we can watch this fun show and do it together.” Criticism, on the other hand, is more global, and generally aims to attack someone’s or a group’s character, personality, or identifying aspect. Criticism generally doesn’t look specific, and its aim is usually to hurt or demoralize. Criticism is a jab and most often doesn’t provide much optimism about the ability to change the behavior. It might look like someone saying, “you always think of yourself,” or “why do you always think of others instead of us?” or “you never include us in decisions; there is never transparency.” Complaints are a disguised request, whether delivered politely or not, but criticism is usually not productive. 

Turning a complaint or criticism into co-created change involves turning the statements into requests. You might criticize someone by saying “you never provide transparency,” or you might complain saying, “you didn’t include me in that decision.” Instead, when co-creating change, you re-formulate those same complaints or criticisms into a request. For example, you could say “would you consider including me in decisions about X?”  In another example, a parent might complain about the lack of art choices or criticize the school by saying something like, “the school doesn’t care about the arts.” A parent might achieve more by saying “would you consider having a conversation about the school’s art choices?” Co-creating change, like calling in, invites joint processing, understanding, and reflection. It promotes being honest with each other. Criticism, on the other hand, can destroy individuals, halt productive change, and disguise real needs in ambiguous statements.

Calling out, calling in, or re-thinking the way we share our frustrations, judgments, complaints, or criticisms is powerful when it’s grounded in radical honesty. Meaning, it works best when it’s specific about the behaviors that need to be addressed, the elements of culture, processes, or policies that need to change, or the request that it’s actually intended to promote.

I provide this reflection as a challenge and an “ask” for our team, particularly as we advance our anti-racism work. Let’s honor our core value of authenticity by grounding our conversations in specific experiences and actions. We will not advance our anti-racism and JEDI work otherwise. If you ever have an issue, call-out, call-in, concern, want to know more, or have an idea, come and share it with me — I’m open to it all!

Here’s Millennium Weekly: January 25-29.

Thank you,


Roberto

References

Advancing Racial Equity in Schools Vermont & NEA  

Millennium Weekly: January 19-22 (JEDI)

“We don’t always realize that we must work continuously to make real the promise of liberating human interrelationship. Even less often do we have the skills to do this work together. Indeed, we have lacked the consciousness necessary to see our potential together and to lift ourselves up to a new plane for being in relationship with one another in ways that do not depend on power-over, but rejoice in power-with.”

― Rhonda Magee

Dear Team,

Thank you for all of your work this week getting ready for in-person instruction starting on Tuesday. I also appreciate your engagement during our Wednesday meeting. I left the meeting seeing rainbows on our horizon, especially after the vast array of mood-colors shared out as we finished the meeting.

A couple of months ago, James, our Mindfulness partner, recommended two books to me that intersect both our Mindfulness and JEDI work: Mindful of Race: Transforming Race from the Inside Out by Ruth King, and The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming our Communities through Mindfulness by Rhonda Magee. While both books are powerful, Magee’s book has risen to the surface for me lately.

Magee shares that there are seven traits needed to engage in racial justice and other social justice movements in a mindful and compassionate way:

  • An openness to explore without judgment and being able to distinguish judgment from discernment
  • Lovingkindness: a feeling of care and concern for oneself and other
  • Compassion: the will to act to alleviate the suffering of others
  • Patience:  the recognition that the solutions to key problems are not revealed all at once and may not be fully revealed in our lifetimes
  • “Don’t Know” mind: the ability to accept our ongoing need to learn and to live with uncertainty
  • Steadfastness: the capacity to stay in the struggle
  • The courage to seek and act for justice and the willingness to take specific actions to make amends to those injured or harmed

While on the surface these traits might feel obvious, they are indeed powerful reminders. In particular, I’m embracing the “Don’t Know Mind” and “Patience” as we guide and embrace our collective work.  To that end, I would like your feedback on this quick survey regarding our JEDI meetings.  In the survey, I propose some ideas for our time together. I would like us to continue the practice of meeting in affinity groups every other week. However, for the weeks in between, I am proposing three possible paths: 1) a book study together, 2) working to define what JEDI means to us, or 3) allocate time to surface JEDI topics that emerge. All are important, but given the limitations of time, and our commitment to “steadfastness” in this work, we will get to it all with time.

Have a wonderful Martin Luther King holiday. Take time to remember the importance of this day, particularly given the events that have (and are) taking place in our country recently.

Here’s Millennium Weekly: January 19-22.

Thank you,

Roberto

Millennium Weekly: January 11-15

Dear Team,

What a week! Insurrection, violence, and awe. Certainly, a momentously sad moment in history that is still unfolding. Yet another example of events that merit a much-needed reckoning for our country. I have received so many messages from friends and former colleagues from my life abroad for the past 10 years. All messages united in sadness and a realization that no longer can the U.S. hold itself as an example and beacon of democracy and rule of law. The actions this week not only have an impact on our own country and communities, but their consequences will be far-reaching worldwide.

Early this week, I wrote to families. I shared with them that I have few words to inspire reassurance. I gave them some solace in that our students inspire me each day, and that recent movements give me hope for change. Indeed, I hope our students will usher in ways we haven’t the promise this country has not yet achieved.

However, to achieve these aspirations, students need guides who will open their eyes, guide them towards newfound self-awareness, and hopefully, self-driven action.

Time will tell what happens next. Will there be impeachment? Will Trump’s co-conspirators in Congress, the Defense Department, and other agencies face justice? Will Biden usher in continued awakening, accountability, and improvement for marginalized populations? Will the U.S. regain its lost respect around the world? As the events continue to unfold, I offer some points of reflection (which were suggested to me at a workshop some time ago):

  • Start with yourself. Journal. Notice your reflexive responses. How are you reacting to everything happening?
  • Understand your own awareness and knowledge of what’s happening, then consider, how might you be helpful to the youth in front of you? Is it understanding the facts? Is it guiding them through emotional reactions? Is it helping them understand their own voice and power? Is it understanding how we arrived at this point? Most always what sticks is not imposing a particular viewpoint but guiding students through new enlightenment and calls to action through objective reasoning and increased awareness (self and of others).
  • Consider also, is your perspective limited? Are you considering multiple perspectives? What if you were living in Arkansas, for example? Adding to your own perspective fosters informed discourse.
  • Finally, consider, what now? Do you need help? Do you have a part in the events unfolding? Do you need partnership or allyship? Do you time? Do you need to hold off and give space to yourself, instead of addressing difficult issues with students right away?

I fear that we have not seen the end of the current events we are experiencing. I hope these points of self-inquiry are helpful.

On a grateful note, I’m thankful for your hard work getting the term started and finishing up progress reports. I have faith we will also see brighter horizons this year.

Here’s Millennium Weekly: January 11-15.
 

Thank you,

Roberto

Image: usatoday.com

Millennium Weekly: January 4-8

Dear Team,

I hope your break was restorative.  Personally, I had a lot to reconcile mentally and emotionally from 2020, and although the break was filled with work of different kinds, I had some opportunities to disconnect, reflect, and work towards centering myself for the new year. Long walks in the brisk countryside, time with family, and fun reading were particularly helpful. 

Against most recommendations, and two COVID tests later,  I spent the break in a small town called Bera in the north of Spain, in the Basque Country, close to the French boarder.  In the winter, it’s a rainy town characterized by green muddy hills filled with sheep slowly traversing the humid grass. It’s the kind of town where everyone knows and greets each other in proud ways. Residents are proud of the food they produce, and restaurants serve some of the best food in the world (there are more Michellin star restaurants in this region than in any other in the world). During non-COVID times, small bars and plazas are filled with neighbors enjoying a glass of wine and pintxos together. Even though Fernando and I come only once or twice per year, each time it feels as if the whole town knew of our travel plans, our life in San Francisco, and even the steps we took to travel here. Words travel fast.  It’s homey, comfortable, providing distance from day-to-day work and life.  My mind and body needed the change of air, of pace and space and although the time went fast, I feel fortunate to have had it.  

I hope you were able to find your own space to retreat and breathe.

As part of my reading this break, I encountered this poem, which felt apt to share in this moment in time. It’s by W.S. Merwin, Poet Laureate, Buddhist, and environmentalist:

To the New Year

With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning

so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible

It doesn’t matter if “anyone hears it,” the coming of a new year is still important and beautiful, and I’ll add, full of possibilities and hope. May 2021 be kinder to all of us, may it bring us all together in beautiful and meaningful ways, and may it provide healing to our wounded world.

Here’s Millennium Weekly: January 4-8.

On Monday, January 4, we will begin together at 8:15. Then at 9:30, Kate will pull together the Wednesday folks for a check-in. At 1:00, we have our first Forum of the year.

Thank you,
Roberto

Millennium Weekly: December 14-18

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘it will be happier.’” – Alfred Tennyson

– Alfred Tennyson

Dear Team,

So many of you have been on my mind, including Anemo and Suzanne. My heart goes out to all of you. While we all process loss in our own ways, I believe the nature of the current world we live in–each of us far away from each other and loved ones–makes this period especially challenging.  

Personally, while I didn’t get to know Stephen well, the magnitude of his loss on our community has pushed me, involuntarily at times, to sit with old memories of past losses. When I think of Anemo, I see myself reflected in him.  Thinking of my own father’s death at an age not too different from that of Anemo’s, I’m called to think of the best ways to support him and his family. When my father died, I vividly remember seeking normalcy at all costs, even though in retrospect, normalcy was impossible to achieve. I’m also challenged by the reality of the difficulty that was coping with my own loss so long ago. Loss has a way of reminding us of the uncontrollable and undeniable power and consequences of mortality.

Helen McDonald in H for Hawk wrote:  “The archaeology of grief is not ordered. It is more like the earth under a spade, turning up things you had forgotten. Surprising things come to light: not simply memories, but states of mind, emotions, older ways of seeing the world.” For me, this has been the case throughout my life. Loss is not momentary. Its roots are deep, and its seedlings emerge when least expected, each time sparking old memories.  

During Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to drive through my childhood home. When my father died in Venezuela, my mother moved us to live closer to her side of the family in rural South Carolina. My grandfather allowed us to live in a small home on my great-grandmother’s property. The property was over a century old, the main house still having outcroppings of small barn-like structures utilized when cooking was done in separate spaces out of fear that a fire could consume entire homes. The main house on the property was representative of my great-grandmother, who I didn’t know well. I remember her as a proud and powerful woman who had her own pew at church that no one could sit on. She was the first congresswoman from South Carolina, having stepped in to finish my great-grandfather’s term when he passed away.  

The house we lived in, which barely stood, was at the gate of the property. In the winter, we had to place space heaters underneath the home so that the pipes wouldn’t freeze. The wind could be easily felt seeping in through the window casings. For me, this home is in many ways a symbol of change and sadness—a transition from one place to another, and a reminder of loss and poverty. It represents the consequences of someone’s passing. Yet, each time I’m nearby, I’m compelled to visit and honor it in some fashion, paying it homage as if it’s somehow cathartic. Each time I visit, a floodgate of memories opens, some memories held carefully and nicely in place seeking not to be disturbed.  

I write this to you today to share a bit about myself, to be vulnerable in solidarity with you, and to exemplify (with the hope that it’s somewhat relative and helpful) that we all cope with change and loss in our unique ways.  If you need time, assistance, and support in any way as we close the year, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here for you.

Here’s Millennium Weekly: December 14-18


Have a good last week of school before the holidays. Thank you so much to all of the Guides for amazing culminations, to Kate for her organizational prowess with intercession, for Aya’s assistance with our holiday gathering, and to all of you for finishing up end-of-year recommendations and progress reports.

With appreciation,

Roberto

Millennium Weekly: December 7-11

Dear Team,

Two weeks to go!  Thank you for all of your efforts as you wrap up curriculum for the term, all while preparing progress reports and recommendations.

I hope those who attended POCC found it fruitful. Let’s share out highlights during our JEDI time this week.  

Today, as we end the week, and as I try to wrestle out of my mind a message for you all, what comes to mind is Emily Dickenson’s poem, “’Hope’ is the thing with feathers (314).” The poem is about the immutable nature of hope. Each stanza describes the endurance of hope through hardship, sending the message that hope is eternal. That hope is powerful and perseveres and requires little of us. The poem evokes the image of hope as a bird – hope is perched in the souls of human beings, singing and inspiring each of us.

For me, the poem reminds me that to cope with adversity and hardship, one has to look within. We endure, hope endures, and birds singing endure. 

So, I leave you this week with the poem:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers – (314)

BY EMILY DICKINSON

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –

And sore must be the storm –

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.

Have a restful weekend.

Here’s Millennium Weekly: December 7-11.

With appreciation,

Roberto

Thank you and Millennium Weekly: Nov. 30-Dec 4

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.”

― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

Dear team,

It’s Friday. We made it! It’s now Thanksgiving Break, and like you all, I’m relishing in the joy that we will have a week to rest, relax, wander, and rejuvenate. It’s been a tough year. Many of us have been full-on without a break since the pandemic began. Teaching, which is difficult enough as it is, is compounded by a total re-work of plans and a necessity to keep kids safe. I could go on. Argh! What a year!

However, as I reflect on the past week, I can point towards brightness. In particular, I want to highlight the vulnerability that several of you have shown in small and big group meetings. I’ve been so happy, relieved, and impressed at your ability to authentically show your true selves (which is one of our core values).  Whether it’s been simply sharing a personal update, expressing how hard things have been, or engaging in a clearing, these moments have brought us a step closer as a team.

Brené Brown writes that when we are vulnerable, we allow ourselves to be seen, which cultivates trust, kindness, and respect. She writes, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” Being vulnerable in our authentic selves allows us to connect on a deeper level, and in the process, build trust and greater team unity.  By understanding each other, we can learn together, and establish a relationship where we can push each other in creative and powerful ways.  

Being vulnerable is not easy, yet when it happens, it opens doors. I want everyone to be able to be their authentic selves. If you feel that you can’t, or if there are better ways to structure our time and work together, please don’t hesitate to talk through those with me. Our collective prosperity is dependent on each and everyone’s investment in our overall wellbeing. 

Thanksgiving provides an opportunity to stop and recognize what we are grateful for. I’m especially grateful this year for this team. I’m so appreciative of your hard work, dedication, and commitment to our students and each other. Despite the challenges, and this year there are many, I’m also thankful to have a job that makes an impact on the development of those under our care. Directly put, we are doing good, and I’m thankful I’m part of that.  I’m also thankful to Margaret, Jeff, and Todd who work to support the wellbeing of educators across the country. I’m also personally thankful to have a job and economic security when so many are facing hardships. Finally, I’m grateful for all of those individuals that work behind the scenes to keep our school clean and safe – notably our cleaners, who come in early or stay late, working to sanitize our building on a daily basis.

Here’s Millennium Weekly: November 30-December 4. A reminder that our last Forum of the year is on the afternoon of December 1.

With appreciation,

Roberto

Millennium Weekly: November 16-20

“Folks I’m telling you, / Birthing is hard and dying is mean – / So get yourself a little / Loving in between” – Langston Hughes

Dear Team,

At a party a few years ago, I met a psychiatrist who shared that he only treated teachers or doctors. He shared that in both professions individuals make hundreds of decisions on a daily basis that have a consequential impact on others. The decisions we make as educators have the power to greatly influence our students, for good or bad, in the present and in the future. The weight of these decisions, whether micro or macro, had similar consequences on the mental and physical wellbeing, and ultimately, the resilience of teachers and doctors.  I think this weight is one of the many reasons teaching is so tough. Our investment in what we do is not proportionate to the time, energy, and resources we need to achieve all of our goals. 

Elena Aguilar writes that the stretch between mid-October and Thanksgiving is the most emotionally challenging time of the school year for teachers.  The New Teacher Center calls this period the “disillusionment period,” when the adrenaline, excitement, and the hope of starting a new school year wanes and the winter break seems too far away. It’s also compounded by the fact that at this point in the year the learning that students demonstrate doesn’t usually match the energy and work we have put forth as educators.  Add to all this starting school amidst a pandemic, having to re-invent classroom experiences online, blended students, getting tested for COVID, dealing with separation from loved ones, anxiety, and uncertainty from all angles, and I’m amazed that we are all still standing. I don’t know about you, but this resonates with my own state right now.

According to Aguilar, resilience is “a way of being that allows us to bounce back quickly from adversity stronger than before so that we can fulfill our purpose in life.” She shares that resilience is cultivated through specific habits and by fostering specific dispositions. This is the beauty of Forum, which works to build these dispositions and habits in teachers across the country. 

Aguilar devotes November to the theme “Take Care of Yourself.” She notes that self-care is at the root of resilience. Physical self-care and well-being is the foundation by which so many habits take hold, how we set ourselves up to better deal with our emotions, and how we cultivate better self-understanding.   

Why do I write all this? Well, selfishly it’s a bit cathartic, but most importantly, I want to encourage you to exercise some self-care. Whether it’s enjoying the outdoors, connecting to loved ones, enjoying a game with friends, playing the guitar, sleeping in, treating yourself to good pizza, therapy, karaoke, meditating, exercising, or practicing mindfulness, make it a priority! It’s the only way we are going to build our own resilience to get through the term and this unique year. Reach out to me if you need resources, support, assistance, or time. We have an amazing team, and our collective success depends on our ability to persevere and take care of ourselves.  If we are not ok, we can’t put forth our full authentic selves for the benefit of our students.

Personally, I usually shrug off these types of messages, but I’m going to heed my own call and focus on disconnecting this weekend. I have had as a goal to start learning Yoga, and that’s my self-care goal.  As a team, we will be focusing on Mindfulness on Wednesday with Michael and James, and we will continue affinity groups on Thursday afternoon.

Here’s Millennium Weekly: November 16-20.  The last week of in-person learning until December 14.

Have a great weekend!

With deep appreciation, 

Roberto

Image: Western Oregon University