Some tips for teachers and parents for helping each other and students with the “hard” stressors.
I was having a conversation with one of my best friends recently about her child and middle school. As we talked through her experiences, we uncovered that everyone has “hard” times and that everyone has a right to their definition of hard. She went on to say several profound thoughts. It is sometimes hard for her daughter with the stress of honors classes and extracurricular activities. It’s also hard to be a teacher in our world today with what students face. And, it’s also hard to be a parent for the same reasons. Social media and the information students have at hand make it tricky for us all. This brings about a bigger question, how do we help and support each other through the “hard” stressors?
Tip #1: Give Grace
Why should we give grace? I relate to Brene Brown’s connection to stress and feeling overwhelmed. She said, “Feeling stressed and feeling overwhelmed seem to be related to our perception of how we are coping with our current situation and our ability to handle the accompanying emotions.” (p. 6) She follows that with questions most tend to ask about coping and even being in quicksand. I know when feeling that way, I appreciate the kindness people give me. Whether understanding is there or not, everyone deserves a bit of grace at times.
Tip #2: Assume Positive Intent
I originally came into contact with this thought as it relates to collaboration norms. I have since adopted the thought process in all relationships and encounters. I do so because I believe that most people really are trying. This is not always easy. Unfortunately, some people do make poor choices for the wrong reasons. But, I choose to believe there is good somewhere in the majority of people. The intent I believe is that teachers really want to make a difference with their students. Parents also want what is best for their child. And, students want to learn.
Tip #3: Listen
In his book, We Got This, Cornelius Minor shares phases of listening. I summarize the three phases in these easy steps: hear, think, and ask. These are important in connection with the need to really listen to what’s hard for students or our kids, teachers or our colleagues, and parents too. Assumptions are easy to be made about what a person feels like they are dealing with. We can sometimes be wrong about those assumptions. Listening includes not only hearing what a person is saying, but also observing how they are speaking and how they are acting. My challenge to you is this: try to listen to understand, rather than listen to respond.
As you consider how to help others with their stressors, consider at least one of these tips. As always, be on the lookout for more in about a month!
- Brown, B. (2021). Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience. Random House.
- Minor, C. (2019). We got this: Equity, access, and the quest to be who our students need us to be. Heinemann.