I recently watched a YouTube talk by Simon Sinek, a world renowned motivational speaker and game theorist, and he said leadership means that ‘…you’re not in-charge, you’re responsible for those in your charge…’ Even though he was talking about business and specifically millennials, it got me thinking about schools as we prepare to reopen in many places across the country.
What does this mean for us as we open our doors to our learners after, what has been for many, an extended period in lockdown? The answer? Empathy. That’s it. We need to practice it in order to create the right spaces for our learners, colleagues, families and leaders. The full link is above, it’s about 35 minutes and worth every one of them if you have the time.
I have taken his four key areas and applied them to the current situation for schools and communities returning after lockdown. I may not be on the right track, but then again, perhaps I am. You decide.
Simon Sinek’s Key Points – as applied by me and through the lens of the return from lockdown;
Parents – some of your parents are going to be happy with the return to school while others won’t be. The vaccinated or unvaccinated question is probably weighing heavily on some of their minds and it is going to be tough to relinquish the feeling of control and safety that they have had up until now.
Technology – the students have been working, probably almost exclusively, online or at least on a device. Let’s not kid ourselves into believing that all of their screen time has been all about the work. The ‘ding’ of notifications have gone without sensor for weeks, they will want it, they will miss it.
Impatience – learning at home has inevitably come with freedom to do what they have wanted, when they have wanted. Feeling hungry? Go to the fridge and grab a snack. Sleepy? Have a little nana-nap.
Environment – for those that been safe at home with their people and with everything going on outside there has likely not been a huge amount of sustained focus or pressure. For those that have unfortunately not been safe, they have likely just been trying to make it through each day.
So where does that leave us?
It leaves us here, ‘you’re not in-charge, you’re responsible for those in your charge…’.
Practice empathy. Care about our people. The most important skill we can utilise is empathy. Listen to, understand, without judgement. It is not time to focus on outcomes. It is time to re-establish relationships, re-connect with friends and colleagues and treat everyone with kindness for what they may have been through is unknown to us. Let our parents know that we are looking out for their children, we have got them.
In education, there is no winner, no loser rather, a bunch of people trying to help the younger people to be their best selves. We are playing an infinite game, the game of life.
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