Educators have always needed each other. Whether that need is an understanding ear or a helping hand, the empathy of a colleague can be just what we need to keep us going. This year more than any, we must be intentional about seeking and sharing encouragement. We are all being asked to do more than what has been typical. In a sense, we are first year educators all over again.
In her book Dare to Lead, Brene Brown shares a study which was conducted with a group of military members who constantly felt exhausted by the demands of their work. The study found they were actually exhausted from loneliness. Not just loneliness from their families, but loneliness from connections and inclusion among those with which they served.
This should serve as a valuable lesson for educators. The demands and stress of balancing in-class instruction, distance learning, social distancing, extra sanitation efforts, and the coming and going of quarantined students may challenge us like never before. For many, it will feel like we’re living in a constant state of exhaustion and loneliness.
We need to be intentional about checking in on and encouraging one another. Sometimes, though, we will be the ones in need. Now is not the time to let pride get in the way and keep us from seeking help. Our sanity demands that we stay connected and lean on each other.
As the study Brene Brown shared suggests, perhaps by doing these things we can muster the extra energy needed to get through this year and provide our students the level of education they need and deserve. Perhaps, too, that same extra energy will allow us to have something left in the tank when we return home to our families.
We can’t do this alone. This school year will require us to lean on one another like never before. Let’s be intentional with serving and encouraging each other. May we also be intentional with seeking help when we need it.
We won’t regret encouraging others or being encouraged by others. However, we will have regrets if we try to get through this school year alone.
Doug Dunn is currently athletic director and junior high principal for the Licking (MO) School District. He has previously served as a K-8 superintendent and elementary principal. Doug can be found on Twitter at DougDunnEdS.