Making headspace through the fog…

It is a bit like a rainbow when you achieve headspace. It feels especially nowadays that folks are stuck in their own worlds doing daily tasks and hardly looking up, reaching out or considering alternatives….

Recently in my work with team of teachers from a school that embraces innovative practices and a willingness to try new approaches my nudges landed numbly on the team. We returned back to basics as it seemed that their teaching was missing some of the key elements and lessons were not connecting to overall objectives for a unit. They were trialing the teaching practice that focused on what to have students do in the moment losing sight of how the learning connects to unit objectives and how it would be assessed.

I tried modeling a ‘self directed’ practice where instead of meeting I asked that they tackle my playlist on backwards design. In my message to them I asked that they go through the playlist and share with me evidence of their planning using this model. One teacher wrote sharing that she felt she was back in graduate school with this task. The rest were silent. A week went by and no one submitted anything. The following week I messaged them that lucky them, due to a calendar conflict I was not able to meet with them and they had another week to work on and submit their unit plans or the starts to their unit plans using the Backwards Design model. A couple of folks submitted and instantly I returned their submissions with feedback.

By the third week it was time to meet again. This time I decided we needed to address the ‘elephant in the room’ as to why they have not completed the assigned task. Interestingly they shared that they did not have the time, the task was not clear, and that they were unsure. My response, because I believe in keeping the conversation honest, was ‘you had two Friday sessions worth of time to tackle the playlist, no one returned back with questions- so did you really engage with it? ‘

My take away is that the team did not give themselves the headspace to actually read the material and reflect. They are happy to sit in a session together with me facilitating, showing them a slide deck, answering my questions but when it comes to actually doing the task independently it is easier to just do what is usual i.e. mark student work, prepare lessons and post material on Google classroom. In some ways it is similar to choosing to read a analytical news story or catching up on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn… how often do people actually click onto the more in-depth news stories, research findings or reflect on what one has learned?

This fog is not just impacting the teacher team I work with. I see it across many different people and their interactions at least with me. When you are out of sight (and no longer populating a given physical space with regularity i.e. change of job or location or home or country) staying connected to one another requires effort. Each person must reach out to share updates and respond to updates. Though the numbers of means to have this communication is 10x what it was in the 80’s the reality is the actual number of people one engages with in meaningful discussions is nearly the same, 2-3 people on a regular basis. Similarly we have this desire to share and there are some folks who do a lot of sharing via social media and many more that consume this content. The quality of what is shared could use a bit of analysis in that much is a forward of another post, a short announcement pitching something and little substance actually exists. Again we are all in a bit of fog.

How do we get rainbows or a bit more clarity? I think it comes down to two things: intentionality and vision. When my 12 year old daughter returned early from school one day and commented “I have 30 minutes before my next class. I really just want to watch something mindless on YouTube.” I recognize that she has clarity about how she wants to use her time and that this time on mindlessness watching is time bound due to her class commitment. She recognized that perhaps 30 minutes in the middle of the day is a bit much and accepted the challenge to do another post in her Etsy store as something to do and be productive about still giving her time to relax. She had clarity in how she was going to use her 30 minutes with a productive outcome.

To achieve vision requires reflection. Reflection is a process that takes time and like developing a fine dining experience or setting up an experience or travel adventure. As you engage in this process a series of questions always surface: What is your end goal? How will you know you have achieved it? By achieving it what will be the impact? What skills do you need to acquire or improve in to get there? What does the process of engaging in it feel like? Allowing time for oneself to read, think and reflect is essential especially as a teacher. The doing is easy and could be all consuming.

Similarly in life the doing comes with familiarity and though can be annoying at times, there is an ease to it. Sometimes I hear about my friend and family’s lives centred around moving house, taking the kids to and from their different activities, planning this holiday or work event and as they describe such things it sometimes feels that they are in a bit of a ‘rat race.’ When I ask how they are? or what is bringing them joy? There is a pause and sometimes they are not really sure. This is what I call as fog or missing some headspace.

To see a rainbow one has to look up.

How will you get yourself out of your fog?

Published by marasimmons

A passionate educator turned world traveler embarking on a nomadic lifestyle with my family. Learning to appreciate a life where we have the privilege of choosing our destiny and embracing it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: